Now You Know Better…14 Personal Hygiene Fails We Encounter Every Day
With the onset of cold/flu season and just a general disappointment with what I’ve witnessed with adults as far as hygiene lately, I thought it would be good to do a little refresher course on things I thought we all learned in middle school health class. It’s sad that grown folks need a guide on how to dispose of feminine hygiene products, how to clean up after themselves in public restrooms and when it’s time to get rid of ratty looking drawls. Allow the following to serve as a PSA on several ways some of you might be struggling in the personal hygiene department:
1. Not covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
This may seem simple enough, but I swear taking public transportation to work, especially in winter, makes me want to do the backstroke through some anti-bacterial gel as soon as I clock in. With so many people hacking and coughing in a subway car, I swear I can see the flu virus floating past my head as I try to hold my breath for the next 10 stops. And coughing into your hand is useless if you use that same hand to hold the pole as you get up from your seat.
Do me a favor folks (well a few favors): Invest in Kleenex, practice the ”vampire cough” (sneeze in the inside of your elbow) and if that’s too deep, stay your sick behind at home where your germs can’t harm the rest of us.
2. Neglecting to wash your hands after you use the restroom.
I’ve seen so many folks complain endlessly because the waiter touched their straw or the doctor didn’t use gloves while taking their temperature. Those same people will go into a restroom and do Lord knows what in a stall, then promptly bypass the sinks and soap to the exit. Huh?
The truth is, there are filthier places than public restrooms, but I hate to think there was no intervention in between someone wiping their behind and shaking my hand or making my food. The UK Metro reported this past summer that one in 20 people wash their hands incorrectly after using the restroom and one in 10 didn’t bother to do so at all. One in 6 cell phones is contaminated with fecal matter, not to mention the percentage of credit cards, money, ATM and elevator buttons. It’s all fun and games until someone gets the stomach flu.
3. Leaving urine and other bodily liquids on a public toilet seat.
I don’t know what it is about public restrooms that make some people go buck wild and leave it looking any kind of way. You may not be on the shopping mall’s payroll, but make an attempt to clean up after yourself. No one wants to see all your mess splattered on the floor and the seat because you popped a squat and kept it moving. The least you can do is grab a little tissue and wipe down the seat. It’s bad enough we have to use the public restroom, but can I do so with a little dignity?
4. Disposing of feminine hygiene products improperly.
Any person over the age of six should know that everything was not meant to be flushed down the toilet. With that said, my plumber fiancé makes 90 percent of his money pulling sanitary napkins and condoms from the same customers’ drains…repeatedly. So for once and for all: I don’t care how toilet safe a product claims to be, stop flushing your tampons, sanitary napkins and condoms down the toilet. Take a moment to wrap your waste and dispose of it in the trashcan so you can save yourself some money on home repair and embarrassment.
5. Not changing tampons/sanitary napkins regularly.
Some women take it to a completely different extreme and forget to change their sanitary products regularly. After a certain point, your pad can’t do it’s job properly and you run the risk of some serious adult “diaper rash,” discomfort, and just plain ol’ mustiness.
6. Cleaning up your hair.
There’s something about shedded or shaved hair in bathrooms that instantly makes my breakfast want to reappear. Whether you’re all natural or a weave wonder, especially if you’re sharing a bathroom, take a moment to clean up the hair you shed. No one wants to go behind you to brush their teeth and have to look at Loose Deep Wave in #27 coating their sink.
7. Buy a damn belt.
This may be more of a fashion faux pas than a hygiene fail, but no one wants to see your a** crack every time you drop a pen or lean in a little too deep on your desk. Don’t let me forget my belt! I end up feeling like my whole day is screwed. You know how women buy these low-waisted jeans and spend the whole day jumping, and tugging and pulling? That trusted invention called a belt–you guessed it!–eliminates those issues.
8. Throw away panties that are past their prime.
If your panties are holding on to your behind on a wing and a prayer, or your thongs are making you chafe, it’s time to lay them to rest. It’s so easy to neglect routine underwear shopping; undergarments can easily get expensive. But the truth is that properly fitting underwear not only feel better, they look better too. When you have on the wrong bra or drawls, the bumps and rolls can be seen under your clothes, and if they can’t, your uncomfortable tugging and squirming will surely give it away. Statistics show that 85 percent of women are in the wrong bra right now. And we wonder why we keep having nip slips.
9. Not wearing panties period.
Going commando sounds s*xy in theory, but some of us can’t afford to. Your vag*na is living its life right if it’s lubricating and cleansing itself regularly. With no underwear to form a barrier between your lady parts and your clothes, all of the secretion is leaking right onto your clothes, your thighs, or someone’s car seat and some of us are “wetter” than others. No one wants to have to deal with your bodily fluids, especially if they’re not even getting any.
10. Not being sexually sanitary.
Handling your business and not washing the sheets before someone else sleeps in the bed; not “freshening up” in between partners; not making sure your private parts are clean before you get it popping. These are all things I find offensive when it comes to sexual hygiene. I don’t judge anyone’s right to get freaky, but you don’t have to be filthy about it.
11. OPE: Other People’s Earbuds
When someone asks to borrow my ear buds I look at them like, “What brand of crack have you been smoking?” We’re long past the days of metal headbands and black foam earpieces–these things go inside my ears. That’s like asking to borrow my IUD. Treat my Skull Candy as you would my Mirena.
12. Sharing contact lenses, eyelashes and other personal items.
While we are on the subject of personal care, there are some things friends just shouldn’t share. These include: contact lenses, false eyelashes, lip balm, etc. These things carry germs and bacteria and there are enough eyelashes to go around without us getting all up close and personal with one another’s E. coli.
13. Putting perfume and paint over funk.
I will never understand how some women get s*xy from head to toe, get the manicure, pedicure, and have their face freshly beat, but skip step one: Washing their behinds. I’ve seen some women throw on designer jeans and hair that costs more than a car note without getting first getting familiar with some Dove and Degree. All the sex appeal in the world can’t make up for soap and water. There’s only so much funk that Flowerbomb can blow away.
14. Getting lazy with your sew-in.
Many women wear weaves because they’re low-maintenance, but low maintenance doesn’t mean zero maintenance. Women will totally forget they ever had hair under those tracks and won’t brush, wash, comb, or moisturize their own hair. Some even go a step further and leave their weaves in for way too long. Eventually your hair will reappear and someone will have to deal with it. When you take the extension out, your hair shouldn’t smell like that thermos you forgot was in your lunch bag last week…
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.