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You Probably Aren’t Washing Your Hands Long Enough

Photo: pinkypills/Corbis

A Michigan State study on hand washing found that only 5 percent of public restroom users observed in East Lansing wash their hands with soap and water for fifteen seconds or longer. The CDC recommends twenty seconds of hand-lathering, a period of time that equates to “hum[ming] the ‘Happy Birthday’ song from beginning to end twice.” Matt Lauer jokingly offered some other songs, but here at the Cut, hand sanitation is not a joke. Here are some accurate ways to measure the twenty seconds it takes to clean your filthy hands:

The following Katy Perry verse: “You make me feel like I’m living a teenage dream, the way you turn me on/I can’t sleep, let’s runaway and don’t ever look back, don’t ever look back.”

• The Dance Moms’ My world is with my girls/Living on the dance! Floor!” jingle, repeated twice.

The following Scissor Sisters verse: “‘Cuz you’re nasty, oooh, but I’m gorgeous/’Cuz you’re nasty, oooh, but I’m gorgeous/You’re disgusting! Oooh! And you’re nasty!”

Recite the Aeneid up to “Iunonis ob iram.”

• If you work in management, bring some résumés to the bathroom with you. Read and evaluate four people’s lives; the average HR professional spends six seconds reading a résumé. Last two hand-washing seconds may be spent laughing with derision.

• Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and the Beat,” played on your phone until Bieber gets to “Eh! Eh! Eh!” Since you had to touch your phone, you should now work up a lather and rub your phone for another twenty seconds, or until Bieber arrives at the falsetto “All I need/Is a beauty and a beat” hook.

• Imagine you are waiting for a very slow elevator. The moment you become blinded with impatient rage will probably be around the twenty-second mark.

You Aren’t Washing Your Hands Long Enough