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Dirty Door Handles and the Influenza Virus

Updated on February 2, 2013
PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

Justin W. Price, AKA PDXKaraokeGuy, is a freelance writer, blogger, and award-nominated author based out of Juneau, Alaska.

Notice the use of paper towels
Notice the use of paper towels

That wonderful time of year has descended upon us once again... flu season!

The best way to prevent the spread of influenza and other illnesses, according to the American Medical Association and the Department of Health, is to wash your hands frequently—especially after using the restroom. This has been common knowledge for years and most of us now wash our hands after doing various types of bathroom business. For anyone that doesn’t, please don’t tell me and please don’t shake my hand.

Of course, shaking hands is also a great way to catch a nasty bug. Many among us, including the lovely Mrs. PDXKARAOKEGUY, no longer shake hands when meeting folks. In Latin America and parts of Europe, a kiss on the cheek is often the common form of greeting. While this seems on the surface to be a much quicker way to acquire a contagion, it’s actually a much safer greeting option.

So, to avoid a cold or flu, avoid shaking hands, wash after doing your business and kiss that acquaintance on the cheek.


what happens after we wash our hands?

Germs are bad

Influenza virus
Influenza virus | Source
Cold virus
Cold virus

This question has puzzled me ever since I noticed the paper towels leaving my college campus only to be replaced by air drying machines. While on the surface this has less environmental impact (I’m not convinced it does, but that is not the point of this article, nor my area of expertise), it may have a detrimental effect on your health.

Here’s the problem:

I go and do my business in the bathroom. I go to the sink and I’m forced to use my hand to turn on the faucet… there’s no paper towels. I hope for an open stall, and grab a piece of toilet paper and turn the faucet on. If I can’t get to a stall, I have to figure out another option.

I wash my hands dutifully, using soap and warm water and being sure to get under my finger nails. I turn off the water and stick my hand in a dirty jet dryer.

This is fine, I suppose. My hands are dry, clean and warm and toasty. The biggest problem is about the rear its ugly head. How do I get out?

You see, the door opens in. There is no way to use my hip, my elbows or any other non-hand body part to get out. This requires grabbing onto a dirty door handle (I may have washed my hands, but did everyone that grabbed that door handle do the same?), pulling the door open and making my escape. Back in the days when there were paper towels, this was not an issue.

Now, unless I’m in one of the bathrooms with an automatic door opener, I’m shit out of luck. My options become grabbing a dirty door handle, which essentially cancels out my hand washing, grabbing a piece of toilet paper, which may or may not be available, or using my shirt or my own hander kerchief (and since I’m not my grandfather, I don’t generally carry around a handkerchief).

Why can’t I just have paper towels? I’m all for helping the environment and doing my part to reduce waste and my carbon footprint, but I’m also in favor of not getting sick. If you’re not going to provide paper towels, please provide hand sanitizer and make doors that swing out so no hand use is necessary to exit.

That’s all I have to say about that. Seacrest out.

Which method is the best to prevent getting cold or flu?

See results

Thanks for Reading.

PDXKaraokeGuy, also known as Justin W. Price, is an author with Sweatshoppe Publications, which will soon re-release his poetry collection, Digging to China. Additionally, the managing editor at eFiction horror and The New Bridge online newspaper.. Husband to Andrea, father to two dogs. fan. tattooed. He is am amateur theologian with a rabid sweet tooth. He resides in a suburb of Portland, Oregon.He has a poetry book available for Amazon Kindle, and also maintains a blog, FirstBlog. His work has been featured in the Crisis Chronicles, efiction Magazine, The Hellroaring Review, the Bellwether Review, eFiction Humor, and the Rusty Nail. Please visit his profile page for more information. Thanks!


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    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Stessily, you need to see 12 Monkeys. It's a pretty good dark sci fi film with a hell of a cast. I eccommend it.

      I'm glad you enjoyed this!

      Did you hear that i got a book deal? follow my facebook ( or e mail me at to be kept in the loop!

      Hope all is well. Bathrooms need paper towels.

      Happy Holidays!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thanks a lot, Christy. Glad this was timely as well :-)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Aurelio, that's true. The human body itself is great at fighting infection... but not having paper towels int he bathroom is not helping anything!

    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      Justin, Poignantly and presciently presented! Thanks especially for the germ, spider segment from 12 Monkeys, which I have not seen but will soon. (This is the 2nd time now that one of your serious-humorous essays encourages me to jump an unseen film to the top of the list; to wit: "Loudbraries" and "The Big Lebowski".)

      Your door dance is hilarious, especially the options of using your shirt or a nonexistent handkerchief. (Be sure not to brush against the affected part of the shirt later in the day.)

      Something I've noticed lately in public restrooms is a paper towel contorted around the door handle; it's a good idea for the person who lodged it there, but imagine the pileup of germs thereafter.

      Appreciatively, Stessily

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Funny my mom and I were just talking about bathroom germs the other day. Those door knobs must be full of germs, and the dusty hand dryers too. Ewww. Good topic to write about there!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I think washing hands is helpful in avoiding disease. But we sometimes forget that human skin and the body itself is quite effective in preventing problems, otherwise we'd be sick all the time. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Northwind, I agree. this entire problem could be solved with paper towels, or at least a box of kleenex. It's preposterous not to have these, or to be told to go to the bookstore to buy them.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Karn... I get a little irritated, especially in the warmer months when I don't have on long sleeves to use for added protection. It's good to be young and flexible, especially when trying to avoid illness! Thanks for reading.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Hezekiah... wash your hands all the time. That's all I can say. Listen to your wife. She is wise.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      I agree, Rajan. It seems like common sense to have the doors swing out! It's mind boggling.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Gypsy, I agree. Especially at college, where young people think they'll live forever and are immune to illness.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      I agree Alicia. All bathrooms should swing out, like hospital doors. this would be a huge step towards preventing infection.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thanks Flash. I hope so.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      lovedoctor, I don't get sick much either, thank goodness. My school offers to sell door handle wipes for $1. But why should I pay? It hurts the school if people get sick... so why force the issue? Thanks for stopping by.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thanks Matthew... also added a video :-)

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 5 years ago from The World (for now)

      PDX, I have to admit that the door thing is a way to get the germ but then again, so is the tap. You open the tap with your dirty hands (and so did everybody else) and you close the tap with your clean hands which get dirty again because you touched the tap too. Adrian Monk had the tap thing down to a science. The paper towels or the wipes work best. If the place does not provide you with it, then I advise that you walk with your own.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      Loved it - right down to the Seacrest my favorite guy..)

      I swear I could actually see you in that bathroom, Justin - twisting and turning and wondering how you're EVER gonna get out of that toilet germ free! LOL..

      pretty funny stuff - but isn't "various types of bathroom business" ALWAYS funny? omg

      (i must admit - i've turned myself into a pretzel doing exactly the same thing)

      Good luck this flu season, my friend...LOL..

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 5 years ago from Japan

      Very good hub. My wife constantly reminds us all to wash our hands frequently, it must be around 10x a day. In Japan virus spread very easily though.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Hi Justin,

      Useful and interesting hub. Finding the bathroom door opening inwards is the most irritating part of the whole exercise of using a bathroom, washing one's hands and then using the handle to open the door bringing to a nought all the work done to sanitize the hands.

      Voted up, useful and sharing.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks for sharing and caring as the flu season approaches. I'm all for the hand washing. Some of the public washrooms on this side of the world scare me and I avoid when I can.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I like your suggestions and enjoyed reading your ideas, PDX. There certainly do need to be some improvements in the design of many public restrooms!

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 5 years ago from usa

      Thank you for the useful information. No one wants to have a virus and you advice may help prevent one.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 5 years ago

      There's a lot of truth here. The paper towel works fine for grabbing dirty public restroom doors. How about the movies, malls or any other establishment? Maybe I should start carrying pocket tissues in my purse. Not a bad idea. The gym is another place full of germs especially in the sauna and shower area. I haven't been feeling well today not sure if I am getting a cold, but I hardly ever get sick. Great hub!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      PDX... just voted in the new poll. (I chose to Wash My Hands)... JSMatthew~

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thanks Michelle. I agree. My school has also gotten rid of hand sanitizer. I think they want us to get sick! Thanks for stopping by!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      NO problem, Matthew. My pleasure. By the way, I just added a poll.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Thank you for this hub. This is the best time of the year to write it. The flu is coming and we need more then just the flu shot. Not a lot of people take it. The hand sanitizer is the best thing to use after shaking a lot of hands.

      Wonderful hub.

      Voted up.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      You make some great points here Justin PDX. I have been victim to this as well. Thanks for bringing this to light. Up and shared...



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