New Hand Towels Mean Germophobia Is Out of Control

Jacqueline Burt Cote
6

kid dirty handsWhen I saw the new Kleenex commercial about the disgusting array of germs that can hide in the average home's hand towels, I couldn't resist going online and putting my own set under the microscope of the Kleenex Hand Towel Analyzer. It's easy enough: Answer a few questions about how many people live in your home, your family's handwashing habits, and whether or not you have pets, and voila! The Analyzer instantly tells you where your home's hand towels fall on the gross-out spectrum.

As a germaphobe with less-than-great housekeeping skills, I was neither pleased nor surprised with the Hand Towel Analyzer's results.

My towels fall into the "borderline icky" category. Oh, no! That's it, I thought, I'm picking up a box of those disposable hand towels today and tossing the terrycloth.

But then I started to think ... does one step forward in the war on germs equal two steps back in the direction of over-sanitization? I won't lie: I carry around of bottle of hand sanitizer, but I'm also concerned that if we keep coddling our immune systems like crazy, we won't have any resistance to the strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria we're simultaneously creating. (It's the classic chicken vs. egg question: Which came first, superbugs or superbug paranoia?)

You've most likely heard of the Hygiene Hypothesis, which basically blames our country's sharp increase in the incidence of childhood allergies on our obsession with being clean (not too many kids in third-world countries need to carry around an Epi-Pen).

So now I'm on the fence about buying disposable hand towels. Maybe I'm doing my kids a favor by exposing them to a pathogen or two. Or maybe the next time I dry my hands, all I'll be able to think is "borderline icky." And don't even bother suggesting I launder my hand towels every day or something crazy like that (see "less-than-great housekeeping skills" above).

Do your hand towels gross you out?

 

Image via St0rmz/Flickr

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