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Do men wash their hands after they pee?

This is an important question regarding men’s bathroom hygiene habits. Proper handwashing after using the restroom is crucial for health and preventing the spread of germs and disease. However, many men are notoriously bad at washing their hands, especially after just peeing. In this article, we will explore whether men actually wash their hands post-urination, the reasons behind their handwashing habits, the health risks of not washing hands, and how to encourage better hand hygiene among men.

Do men wash their hands after peeing?

Several studies have attempted to measure how many men wash their hands after using the bathroom. The results show that men frequently forego handwashing after peeing.

Scientific research on men’s handwashing habits

In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2009, researchers directly observed over 6,000 people in restrooms and recorded their handwashing habits. They found that only 31% of men washed their hands after urinating. Other studies using observation have found handwashing rates after peeing around 64% and 77% for men.

However, research relying on self-reporting from men suggests higher washing rates. A study published in 2013 had men complete surveys about their handwashing habits and found that around 75% reported always washing up after urinating.

The self-reported data is likely inflated due to social desirability bias – men may feel pressured to claim they wash more often than they actually do. Overall, the research suggests that somewhere between 31% and 75% of men wash up after handling their genitals to pee. That leaves up to 69% who do not regularly wash up after urinating.

Observational data in public restrooms

Observational studies can give us real-world data. Researchers have gone into public restrooms and directly observed handwashing behaviors:

– A study published in 2019 stationed observers in hospital public restrooms. Only 61% of men washed their hands after peeing.

– Researchers observed over 200 men in an urban setting in 2008. Only 51% washed their hands after urinating.

– In a 2007 study monitoring restrooms at a university, only 46% of male students washed hands after using the facilities.

The observational research overwhelmingly demonstrates that a significant portion, often a majority, of men do not make a habit of washing their hands after urinating.

Why don’t more men wash their hands after peeing?

If failing to wash hands carries health risks, why do so many men ignore this basic hygiene step?

They think their genitals are clean

Surveys have found the most commonly cited reason men forego post-pee handwashing is the belief that their genitals are already clean. However, the genital area harbors microbes that can be detrimental to health if spread and ingested, even if the penis itself looks visibly clean.

It’s habit and laziness

Washing hands after peeing may simply not occur to some men since the bathroom trip was so quick. Others are too lazy to put in the 30 seconds of effort. Men are generally less conscientious than women about hygiene habits.

The sink is inconveniently located

If the route from the urinal/stall to the sink is obstructed or far, men are less likely to go out of their way to wash hands. Better bathroom design could encourage handwashing.

No one is watching

Men are much more likely to wash their hands when others are around to observe them. But when alone, good hygiene is abandoned. Social pressure has a significant impact.

Ignorance about health risks

Some men simply do not know basic facts about transmitting bacteria and viruses via unwashed hands. Better health education could improve habits.

Health risks of not washing hands after peeing

Failing to wash hands after urinating can negatively impact health in several ways:

Spreading germs and infections

The genitals harbor bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections, crabs, gonorrhea and other undesirables. Touching oneself and then not cleaning hands allows these germs to be spread to surfaces, foods, and other people. This facilitates transmission of infections.

Ingesting germs that cause illness

E. coli, salmonella, norovirus and other nasty pathogens love warm, moist genital areas. When unwashed hands touch food or the face, these germs can get swallowed and cause gastrointestinal illness like vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

Exposing others to illnesses

Not washing hands spreads germs to doorknobs, railings, table tops and anything else touched. This indirectly exposes others to potential infection, which is particularly detrimental to those with weakened immune systems.

Increased risk of antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistant superbugs are a growing health crisis. Not washing hands allows more bacteria to spread and multiply, which promotes evolution of resistant strains.

How to encourage men to wash their hands after peeing

The risks of poor hand hygiene after urinating are clear. Here are some methods to encourage men to wash up:

Health education campaigns

Posters and signs in bathrooms showing facts and statistics about handwashing could capture men’s attention long enough to stick in their minds. Catchy slogans like “Wash before you walk” could also help.

Install convenient sinks and motion detectors

Putting sinks in easier reach from urinals may remove an obstacle to washing hands. Motion activated faucets also make it quick and simple for men to wash up.

Use peers to instill norms

Men are heavily influenced by other men’s behaviors. Having men’s role models consistently wash hands and advocate for hygiene habits can establish social norms that others will follow.

Make handwashing more habit-forming

Simple tools like checklists on bathroom mirrors or phone alerts/reminders could help prompt men to wash hands and ingrain it as a habit over time.

Implement rewards or penalties

Institutional planners could consider rewarding good hygiene with prizes or points, or penalize lack of handwashing by restricting privileges. This can motivate behavior change.


Multiple research studies demonstrate that a substantial portion of men, potentially a majority, do not wash their hands after urinating. This harms health by spreading illness-causing pathogens. Reasons for poor hygiene include lack of habit, ignorance of risks, and lack of convenient facilities. But better education, design, and social norms can create change. Men need to put in the minimal effort to wash their hands after peeing for the sake of their own health and those around them.