Coronavirus concerns stir debate over habits in men's restrooms: 'Were men not washing their f***ing hands?!’

·5 min read
CDC's warnings for people to wash their hands has led to the realization that men haven't been doing that. (Photo: Getty Images)
CDC's warnings for people to wash their hands has led to the realization that men haven't been doing that. (Photo: Getty Images)

People around the globe are grappling with the effects of coronavirus, and the widespread fear of the illness. But, one good thing to come out of the caution surrounding the disease in the U.S. might just be a culture change in the men’s bathroom.

Due to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people everywhere are taking extra time (20 seconds, to be exact) to make sure that they’re washing their hands. But while few women have commented on the increased sink time, men are taking to Twitter to joke about the long lines and full sinks they’re seeing — many, troublingly, for the first time.

“For once lines in men’s restrooms, as coronavirus makes men wash their hands for the first time,” a writer for the Daily Show tweeted. “Hmm didn’t realize until coronavirus how shocking it is to walk into a public men’s room and see all the sinks actually being used,” another comedian added.

Those who weren’t aware of the lack of handwashing, however, are expressing upset and disgust.

Jenny Jaffe tweet.
Jenny Jaffe tweet.

Despite the shock, men not washing their hands reportedly isn’t new.

According to data from 2009 cited by the CDC, only 31 percent of men wash their hands after using a public restroom, as opposed to the 65 percent of women who do so. Suzanne Willard, Ph.D., a clinical professor and associate dean for global health at the Rutgers School of Nursing, assures Yahoo Lifestyle that there’s more research to support those numbers.

“Can’t say that I frequent men’s bathrooms to know exactly what they do, however, there is lots of research out there that states that men don’t do this,” Willard explains. “Bacteria and virus' are everywhere and everywhere you touch you pick up more and transfer it to your face, to others etc. So, heading to the urinal, flushing it brings you in touch with all of the people who have used that before you. Good to leave the germs there by washing your hands.”

Willard explains that women aren’t off the hook, as they tend to wash their hands “but still not enough.”

As one Twitter user points out, the push for everyone to be diligent about handwashing during this cautionary time goes to show that men likely haven’t been spending enough time in the bathroom.

Others point out that men are finally realizing that germs are something to be fearful of.

And while the CDC has launched a national handwashing campaign to “motivate adults to make clean hands part of their daily lives,” public health crisis or not, some have joked that men shouldn’t be notified once a coronavirus cure comes since it seems to be the only thing that’s gotten them to wash their hands.

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