Too Clean

The only way to really fight OCD is to expose yourself to the things you’re afraid of (not by rolling in dog poop or anything, but just living your day to day life without washing your hands every two minutes after you maybe touched something that might have touched something else that might have…you get the idea).

There are absolutely times when hands must be washed. For instance:

1. You should clean your hands after you’ve used the washroom.
2. You should clean your hands before you eat or prepare food, especially if you’ve just used the washroom.
3. You should clean your hands if you’ve just emptied the litter box, because that’s the cat’s washroom and they smell as bad (or worse) than you do.


Q: Should you wash your hands after a little kid sneezes on them?
A: Yes you should.

Q: Should you wash your hands because the kid looked at you funny and you hate kids because they’re little germ factories?
A: Probably not.

Q: Do we really need the hand sanitizing station at the bank?
A: Money is a filthy mess of germ action, but is it plausible to wash your hands every time you’ve touched some? Do you wash your hands every time you’ve paid for a coffee and a donut with change out of your car? I bet you don’t, at least not every time.

Hand sanitizer is a pet peeve of mine.

As a germaphobe, it’s difficult to live in a world where hand sanitizer is absolutely everywhere. You might think, “Hey, shouldn’t she feel comforted by that?” but the truth is, all I can do is curse society for encouraging me.

Googling “are we too clean” yields some interesting results. I tried looking that up and read up on something called the “hygiene hypothesis,” which relates specifically to “allergic diseases”. I’m not supposed to do any germ-related research at all, actually, so I’ve been a bit naughty in constructing this post.

The hygiene hypothesis makes sense to me. If you don’t play in the dirt when you’re a child, how is your immune system going to know what the bad things are when you grow up? Besides that, if you don’t play in the dirt when you’re young, how sad are you going to be when you realize it’s too late to splash around in mud puddles?

All that being said, I still use the hand sanitizer sometimes, because germs are yucky. I’m glad that other people use it, too, and I thrive on this too-clean society…but that’s the point, isn’t it? I’m the product of the cleanliness-obsession – and in the future, how many people are going to be like me?

3 thoughts on “Too Clean

  1. Timothy Gwyn August 1, 2014 / 3:16 pm

    You are never too old to play in mud puddles. You just grow wise enough to not do it when you need dry feet!

    • Holly Geely August 1, 2014 / 3:17 pm

      That’s a very good point. Next time it rains I’m playing in the mud!

  2. Carrie Rubin September 2, 2014 / 1:41 pm

    Given my field, I’m very familiar with the hygiene hypothesis. Studies show that kids who grow up on farms have less allergies and asthma than those who don’t. The exposure to the animals and dirt and what-not helps boost their immune systems. I think it’s good for all of us to keep this in mind. Of course, hand-washing is very important, especially come flu season, but the hygiene hypothesis reminds us that a little dirt isn’t always bad.

    Great post!

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