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Washing Hands Might Be the Easiest Part

March 02, 1998

So what's the first thing we do when we wash our dirty hands ("The Wash Cycle," Jan. 26)? We turn on the faucet, transferring germs to the handle, wash and then immediately recontaminate our clean hands by grabbing the previously touched handle to turn off the water. Surgeons know about this and use a foot pedal to turn the water on and off.

What can we do to prevent this? The new faucets that turn the water on via an optical sensor solve the problem. When using regular faucets, I wash the handles while I'm washing my hands so that when I turn the water off, my hands aren't reinfected. I suppose you could leave the water running till you grab a paper towel and then turn off the handle using the towel. Of course, this option leaves your germs there for the next user.

Further obsessing reminds me that even after using one of these techniques, all is for naught when you grab the door handle on the way out following someone not as careful as you.

BRUCE YETTRA

Venice

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