Mysophobia – Fear of Germs

"Wash Your Hands Often" - NARA - 514291

“Wash Your Hands Often” – NARA – 514291 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever known someone who had an extreme fear of germs?  Possibly, you know one who washes his hands compulsively, hates to be in public places where numerous people share objects (for example, libraries), dislikes eating food he didn’t cook, or refuses to shake hands with others.  Such a person is said to have mysophobia, a fear of germs.

Compulsive Hand Washing

I can relate to mysophobia because I consider myself to be mysophobic to an intermediate degree.  I am a compulsive hand washer.  Every little thing I do that may moisten or soil my hands in the littlest ways, I have to wash them immediately afterwards.  In fact, up until now, I loved antibacterial soaps until I heard they aren’t all they are cracked up to be.  Since I wash my hands several times a day, they feel overly dry, too warm, and a little coarse.  Maybe I should use hand moisteners instead.

It is mostly when I eat or handle food that I must wash my hands.  Every time I go out to a restaurant, I have to wash my hands before and after I eat.  Not only to destroy the potential of spreading salmonella bacteria, but to rid myself of the annoyance from soiled or greasy hands.  It makes me feel so unclean and like…gross.

What bothers me is when people eat then handle everyday objects without washing their hands.  Even though their hands might be perfectly dry, they’re spreading food bacteria onto things steering wheels, remote controls, door knobs, furniture, cell phones, computer equipment, and every other thing they fidget with.  I try to avoid doing this whenever possible.

Then there’s the real biter: not washing your hands after going to the bathroom.  I’m sure you’ve all seen people taking dumps in public restrooms and walking out like nothing happened.  C’mon people, what the hell is the matter with you?  How hard could it be to turn on a faucet and scrub your hands with soap and dry them off afterwards?  It only takes a minute or two!  To each his own!

Just think, the meal you order next time you eat out could have been cooked by someone who’s done this?  So much for the: “Attention all employees!  Wash your hands.  Dirty hands spread diseases.” signs.  They might as well be wall hangings as far as I’m concerned.

I guess that’s why they say, what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Finally, what is really bothersome is having stinky hands, but no access to a sink.  I would go absolutely bonkers if I walked around or even lied in bed with sweaty or smelly hands.  It would totally distract me.  I wouldn’t even touch my remotes.  I could never get involved in any activity or even watch TV knowing that my hands were extremely unsanitary.  I wouldn’t even want to talk to others all the while.

And most of all…when I’m in public I always would like to wash my hands.  I hate sinks that don’t work, especially the motion detector type faucets that refuse to restart, making you try another one.  Restrooms without soap are just as bad.  Worse is when people who use the public restrooms trash them.  I just have a fetish about washing my hands and if I can’t find a sink, I’ll get upset.

Going to Other Peoples’ Houses

I often dread going to into other peoples’ homes if I don’t know whether they’re clean or not.  With people I know, that’s fine, but those houses I’ve never been to before, I must approach with caution.  I don’t mind clutter such as scattered books or papers so much but what I hate is odors and dirt stains, especially from pets.

Also, I dislike sitting on other peoples’ upholstered couches and chairs, especially if they’re smelly or soiled.  Leather furniture is best since it is nonabsorbent.

Having dinner at someone else’s house turns me off, unless I know them.  I hate to eat something not knowing if it’s cold or if it was cooked under unsanitary conditions.  When I am invited out, I’ll just try to ignore my fear and eat there anyway, but still, I’d rather hit a restaurant instead.  If I must eat over, I’ll come out and ask to use the microwave and usually people don’t think I’m a pain in the neck for doing so.

The worst I’ve seen is when someone leaves plates of food on coffee tables for hours or perhaps overnight.  I’ll turn my nose up to dirty countertops and tables.  Dirty microwaves are spooky too.  Piles of dirty dishes in sinks, especially if they’re partly submerged in murky water, makes me want to lose it.  If I see pieces of food and wrappers or food containers with light remains of sauce in them lying around, I’m like out of there!  I don’t care if I have to be rude.  I WON’T TOLERATE IT!  I hate lingering food odors.

Public Places

Of course there are numerous public places as shopping malls, libraries, airports, schools, and facilities that provide various types of equipment for use by the general public.  Job seeking agencies enable unemployed individuals to come in and use their computers while libraries offer books, CDs, DVDs, and computers for those who want to spend an hour online.

Most of the time, this equipment is a bit tattered and maybe abused.  Using public electronics is a big turn off, especially since you can never tell who has handled it and how dirty their hands were.  This is especially true of ATMs and pay phones.  All you can do is pray that the computer’s keyboards and mice are fairly clean and maybe you can bring some sanitary wipe cloths or rubbing alcohol just in case.

Hotels often receive a bad rap.  Along with TV remotes, the bed spreads are really unsanitary.  You never know was doing what on your comforter before you came; maybe a mother was changing her baby’s diapers.  Obviously, they’re not washed as often as the bed sheets.

Shaking hands with people you meet can seem creepy.  Likewise, you never know how clean their hands are and what they handled since they last washed them.  Still, I feel it is rude to refuse to shake hands, though I sometimes think of it as an unsanitary gesture.

Still, there’s another thing that’s extremely unsanitary: money.   As for dollar bills and coins, you don’t know how old they are and how many hundreds or thousands of hands handled them.  Some coins are found in dirty places like on floors or the ground.  However, when it comes to cash, we’re so happy to have it that we never stop to think about how unclean it really is.

Keeping My House Sanitary

I spend a great part of my time keeping my house sanitary.  When I watch TV in our den, I want to make sure that the chair I am sitting on doesn’t have any fowl odor.  Therefore, I keep a bottle of Lysol to freshen it up.  I just can’t pay attention to what I’m watching if I don’t even do anything about the slight odor.  I’m just can’t sit still until the room smells fresh.

Some days, I’ll wipe the remotes off with a soft dry cloth and rubbing alcohol.  I never eat in there.  I heard that the dirtiest things you can touch are remote controls.  Believe it or not, they’re more unsanitary than a flushed toilet.

My computer system is also my private domain.  I never eat while sitting at my computer because I would hate to put my moist, greasy fingers on the keyboard and mouse.  I keep them clean too.  Even the sight of fingerprints on smooth surfaces makes me think of germs.  Speaking of fingerprints, iPads and tablets have a nasty way of showing fingerprints.

Finally are my counter tops and tables.  If I see a food stain, crumbs, or a spot of food, I have to clean it off immediately.  Like some people are driven crazy by a slightly crooked picture on the wall, I can’t tolerate crumbs or spots.  I use a clean dish rag every day.

I mop the floor in my kitchen at least twice a week because I can’t stand to have my feet stick to the floor.  Once I find even the smallest stains, I have to wash the floor promptly.  Never would I let a dirty floor sit overnight.

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