Dirty Secrets

Hi, it’s Laura.  After initially getting the inspiration to write this post, I have wavered back and forth on the ultimate stance I would be taking.  Am I really willing to state plainly:  I think germs are good and keep us healthy…?  Or would I rather go the “between the lines” route, by saying:  My home and family is easier to take care if I let things stay slightly dirty…? What is really boils down to is a combination of both those things.  I am pro-germ.  I am anti-anxiety.  For me, there are a few tricks of the trade that make life much easier, less hassle, and *again, I state, for me and my household* overall, as a result of either my incredible luck or germ lovingness – rarely sick.  Plus, I just try not to get worked up about germs.  They are new on the scene, whereas Moms have been around for ever.

Two tips at work here... sharing and towel re-use.

I re-use towels until they either

a) smell bad or funky

or

b) have come into contact with raw meat or some fecal matter

This means that we probably use bath towels three or four times before washing.  And honestly, I don’t keep count.  I just hang it up when I’m done with it and sniff it before I use it again.  You’re CLEAN when you dry off, right?  All you need is a good air drying system, and the towel can last for a week OR MORE if you abide by one of my other secrets “Less Bathing”.

Kitchen towels must pass the sniff test.  If they smell more than 25% like a backed up disposal, toss it in the laundry.  I do not air dry kitchen towels when they become wet, unless the water came from clean dishes dripping onto said towel.  See, the same principals at work here.  If something CLEAN comes into contact with something else CLEAN, the end product is not always contamination.

dog food plunger hands... one wipe will do the trick

I don’t wash my hands or my kids hands unless they are dirty.

This clearly comes down to one’s definition of “dirty”, but I will provide mine.  If my hands have not DIRECTLY touched something that I believe to be dangerous or yucky, I don’t wash them.  I don’t wash my hands after going to the bathroom unless I have directly touched my own flesh “down there” or if they have come DIRECTLY in contact with the stuff that came out.  If my hand (already acceptably clean just by virture of being attached to my person) touches toilet paper, I am believing that toilet paper to be clean and also a POWERFUL barrier between the skin of my hand and all the wildly dangerous substances on the other side.  If the toilet paper has been properly executed, my hand has remained SHIELDED from the harmful germ gama rays, and I am perfectly comfortable taking that hand out of the bathroom in the SAME STATE at which I entered.  There are times when I wash my hands to freshen up, smell nice, get that soft clean feeling…  sure.  There are times when I wash my hands just to avoid the stares of those ladies that believe it to be a moral sin to urinate and not wash your hands. (please don’t be offended if you are one of those ladies, I know who you are and I love you anyway) And there are times when I wash my hands because they feel yucky, sticky, dingy, smelly, clammy, heavy with filth.  **after reading several readers’ comments, I feel it necessary to clarify that I do wash my hands a fair amount in association with the bathroom, and I encourage my children to do the same, just not EVERY time, and not ONLY because I’m in public.  I do not view “in public” as a naturally dangerous germ infested place.  I feel the public restroom times are really my only chance to encounter some new and fresh germs.**

We share hugs too

We share stuff like pacifiers, cups, cutlery, and air.

This is pretty self explanatory.  I have zero issue with sharing items that have touched the mouth of another human being.  Obviously it is less socially acceptable out in the wide world, but in this house, if you have a drink, or a pacifier, or a fork, or tooth brush – that items is fair game for anyone else.  Yes, we have to ask politely before we take something, but germs are never the reason for refusal.  I know its old school, but I sort of think a crazy notion:  Better to spread the germs and all get used to them as a family, then keep each person contained with their own breed of super killers.

Bathe only when necessary

I know that a lot of parents have a nightly bath as part of the routine, and that is great.  But in order to save time, energy, water, soap, and as mentioned, towels…  Baths are only given in circumstances as follow:

a) visible dirt on more than 40% of the body

b) smells that cannot be eliminated with one (or two) baby wipes

c) a poo that would require more than five baby wipes

Anything non-toxic can be considered nutritious

d) enough marker on the skin to cause strangers to point and stare

e) desperation of needing an activity that will keep the children in the same place at a relative level of happiness for at least 15 minutes; bonus: they get clean

**another clarification needed:  the adults and pre-teen in the family shower on a regular basis, this line item primarily refers to those who still cannot pronounce words like “breakfast” correctly**

The dishwasher is a disinfectant

Mike and Karissa don’t agree with me on this one…  but if I pull a glass out of the dishwasher, post cycle – it’s clean.  It doesn’t matter if it has smudges on it or some small particles (just a few, I’m not talking about coated with grape nuts), I can trust that those smudges or streaks or minuscule food items have been through a VERY hot hour of washing and drying.  Who am I to discriminate against that glass if it has endured the rigors of that cleaning session?  In my book, unless the dish is being served to a guest, or has enough food on it to fill a thimble, it’s clean and can be used.  *side note: I have found that buying the good brands of dishwashing tabs or soap really make a difference….  Finish Quantum tabs are the BEST and always on sale with coupons!*

the dogs lick off most of the food from faces and dishes anyway...

At this point, I’m sure you’ve either sworn off ever coming in my house or playing with my children, or you are counting up all the hours you spending cleaning clean things – or just cleaning imaginarily dangerous things.  (really, I knew imaginarily wasn’t a word, but I couldn’t think or anything else that would imply a real thing but an imaginary danger)

Don’t hate me because I’m dirty!  I love all my clean friends and family.  I feel I need to give some disclaimer, which is:  I do care about cleanliness.  I care a lot about tidiness, organization, mess-free living.  I just don’t clean because of germs.  I clean because of social judgement and the ramifications of mess induced stress.  I clean to be a success at keeping clean.  I clean because I enjoy the peace that a clutter free environment brings.  I do not clean to protect myself or my family from anything, except wrinkled noses and guilt.  :)

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9 Responses to Dirty Secrets

  1. Danielle October 21, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    Hahahahaha…wow! I have to say I am with you on all of these points except for the hand washing, toothbrush sharing, and dishwasher (only because I’ve never had one). I remember our silly doctor saying something to the effect of “babies don’t need a bath every day,” when I took Ethan in for one of his first visits. I told him that we subscribed to the pioneer theory for our children — Saturday night baths, and only more often if absolutely necessary! 😀

  2. Mandy October 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    Omgosh ~ I am SO in in line with what you posted. I believe that exposure to ‘normal every day’ germs do not harm us but actually help our bodies fight off the nastier more dangerous stuff we are exposed to. Now, there are boundaries you have to set for everything….I don’t think that my immune system could readily battle if I licked raw chicken ~ that is where common sense would step in! Thanks for posting and I’d be happy to come visit anytime 😉 A little dirt never hurt ~ huh?

  3. Katrina Ryder October 21, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Well, girl . . . all I can say is, Amen sister. And, please wash your hands after using the potty in my house. Love and kisses,
    thelowryder

  4. Teri October 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Well, then, I’m definitely dirty! Haha. But we are also rarely sick. And my friends who swear by hand sanitizer and clorox are also my friends that are regularly at the doctor and are constantly sick. Not to mention the stress of all that cleaning! I admit, I have a weekly cleaning day when I do things like mop the floor and scrub toilets and wash sheets and towels, but the rest of the week it’s fair game.

  5. Julie October 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    So glad someone had the guts to say it. I am totally right there with you – and my kids are extremely healthy, thankyouverymuch. Although, now that we are heading toward adolescence, we are finding showering more often worthwhile.

  6. errrr... anonymous in France... October 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    i agree with you, i have a few points myself. 1. i don’t use any hand sanitizers EVER and i wash when my hands are dirty- but i generally do wash after using the toilet. 2. we reuse towels until they are just pre funky. 3 i believe that some germs around make us healthy and i use vinegar and tea tree oil to disinfect normally- not bleach. 4.the baby gets 1 bath a week and the kids 3 or so. sometimes there is some funky monkey going on- so that needs to be taken care of… but my girls have dry skin- as do i… however…. there are some places i draw the line… i shower every single night and cannot sleep if i don’t… and well, you know already what ‘other’ things don’t happen unless we are all clean and spiffy– wink wink. AND i don’t like being touched by people unless their hands are freshly washed. seriously- it creeps me out. i can FEEL the dirt on their skin- chalky, sticky, unfresh, drives me insane. makes me want to gnaw on my own elbow from stress.
    havind said that. i love this about you laura and have thought several times about how i would love to be more dirty like you, you dirty girl.
    i’m off to shower…

  7. vanessa @ silly eagle books October 21, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    I’m with you on most of this! Germs are good for us…this is why I don’t mop my kitchen floor unless I drop raw eggs on it or someone poops on it.

  8. jill October 22, 2010 at 8:46 am #

    for real – less sickness and less stress!

  9. Kristi October 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    i am a neat freak…but not a germ freak. we share cups and all that, not just with family. it’s a kurdish thing to share those with everyone. but i draw the line when the kid my kids are sharing with has snot coming down to his mouth. we also shower every night…that’s the joy of living in a country that does not have cement, asphalt or grass on every square inch of it. it’s funny about the not washing your hands every time you pee…i’ve always tried to hide that about myself…but i think i can safely come out of the closet! thanks Laura!