I set a five minute timer to brainstorm some, but I bet that there are many that I've missed, and furthermore, it would be helpful to know which ones are most important / impactful.

  • I'm about to eat food
  • After I go to the bathroom
  • After I touch a package
  • After I sneeze or blow my nose
  • When I feel an urge to touch my face
  • When I stand up from using my computer
  • I touch the ground.
  • When I touch a shared whiteboard marker.
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Mar 15, 2020


Probably so obvious that you left it off, but:

  • After touching another human

For me the biggest one left after these is:

  • After touching the dog

You already have "after using the computer". I think I'd add "before using the computer" as well, or even instead – keeping the computer a safe zone seems like a good move, and this seems more doable than constantly cleaning the keyboard.

I wipe down my keyboard with hand sanitizer pretty frequently (a couple times a day) just because it's a horizontal surface that could catch anything that happens to be floating through the air. It's not a big deal, especially if I'm using sanitizer anyway: just smear some on the keyboard from the hands before it all dries up.

I think this is probably a good idea. I don't think it conflicts with what I said, though. I personally find sanitising the keyboard quite annoying if the computer is already on, so would probably restrict this to the start/end of the day and try to prevent contamination from hands the rest of the time. This suggests to me that you're either using too much hand sanitiser or (post-keyboard-transfer) too little.
As long as the screen is locked, it doesn't even matter if you press the keys while you're smearing, but I don't usually go in that hard anyway. I just grab a little extra sanitizer for the keyboard and make sure to hit the tops of the keycaps at least. ;) My office has a half-gallon pump bottle of the stuff, so I just give the pump an extra centimeter of travel when I want to do the keyboard (and mouse, BTW). It doesn't have to be often; I usually just wash my hands anyway. And I'm under no illusions that smearing some hand sanitizer on a keyboard is a perfect cleaning job, but it's surely better than nothing. :)


Mar 15, 2020


After touching your belt, or other parts of your pants you're likely to touch between using the toilet and washing your hands.


Mar 15, 2020


Washing your hands requires soap and water, but you can carry hand sanitizer and use that when you can't get to a sink. Any surface an infected person might have touched or sneezed on is dangerous. Besides what you've already mentioned, wash or sanitize

  • When you come home after being in any public place or shared space.
  • After you touch any shared handle. Doors, drawers, cases, faucets, etc.
  • After you touch a keyboard, mouse, gamepad, or touchscreen anyone else uses, or you used when your hands weren't clean.
  • After you touch a shared control. Light switches, elevator buttons, etc.
  • After touching any personal article you touched when your hands weren't clean. Belt, zipper, shoelaces, phone, wallet, glasses etc.
  • After touching money. Coins might be safer than bills, because germs can't live on metal for long.
  • After you touch any garbage that might have bodily fluid in it. Food wrappers, tissues, etc.

You can often sanitize the surface itself with wipes, or reduce the length of time it can harbor germs by coating it with copper foil tape.

14 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:10 AM

I haven't heard anybody talking about credit cards or wallets as potentially-contaminated surfaces. I wonder why that is? We often handle them with unwashed hands, and those pin pads are pretty frequently touched as well.

From my perspective, my wallet is a part of "outside the house". I don't literally leave it outside, but I leave it in my coat's pocket, and never touch it when I am inside. Now I learned to do the same thing with my keys -- I open the door, put the keys in the pocket, remove the coat and hang it. Then I wash my hands. So the wallet and keys are not touched until I go for a walk again, so it's kinda equivalent to leaving them outside.

The most problematic thing is the phone. That one I use both inside and outside, so I have to clean it a lot. (It would be nice to have two phones, where you could use one to remotely activate or deactivate the other. Then I would have an inside phone and an outside phone.)

More generally, this strategy seems like what cultures more obsessed with purity do. Instead of cleaning everything all the time, you specify various zones of cleanness, clean things when they cross the boundary in the wrong direction, and develop instincts against unthinkingly crossing the boundary in the wrong direction.

If your home is "pure" and the wallet is "impure", then obviously you shouldn't handle the wallet at your home, unless you carefully perform the "purification ritual". You don't even have to remember why the wallet is "impure", just the fact that it is. And if you keep these rules all your life, you won't forget it, because the though of using the wallet at your home will automatically invoke a feeling of "dirtiness".

I also mentally categorize objects as clean or unclean.

It would be nice to have two phones, where you could use one to remotely activate or deactivate the other.

I think there are ways to approximate this with what's already available. I.e. use a Bluetooth headset to take calls when at home. Use a home-only tablet for the apps instead of the phone when at home. A lot of them can sync via the cloud these days. If there are notifications or alarms you need to dismiss, you could use a smart watch. You can also use the smartwatch for text messages. There are also ways to text from the tablet or a computer.

You might also consider apps that mirror your phone on your computer over WiFi, like ApowerMirror. Then you can access your phone from inside your pocket when at home.

Out of curiosity, how does the jacket pocket thing work in the summer?

So far I was never protecting myself against coronavirus in summer.

Under more usual circumstances, I simply don't think about my phone as a possible infection vector. Which is possibly a big mistake.

The wallet is usually in some bag.

After touching a door handle.

I usually try to use knuckles to push open doors and try to use a pinky finger to pull them open.

Agreed; I use elbows or shoulders if possible. Some doors even have a kick plate that can essentially be stepped on!

Sudden thought: Why aren't all doors foot operated? A simple pedal latch would be far more hygenic and easier to operate e.g. with an armload of groceries or when wet than the knobs we have most places. I know I've seen doors with this feature (does a google on "foot pedal door opener"...) It's totally a thing! This should be common!


In the 21st century shouldn't the question be why aren't all doors smart doors that open and close as needed?

That would be awesome, but more expensive and prone to failure than what we're using now. I expect this is the primary reason we are still mostly using purely mechanical systems. My "automate everything" is in conflict with my "simpler is usually better" in this case.

I almost made a comment about security (which would be not-very-good given our current technology), but then I realized a couple of things:

  • I've studied lockpicking so I know exactly how secure our current systems are. (It's shockingly bad, BTW. You'd be hard pressed to actually find something that was more-than-trivially worse than the usual 4-pin tumbler locks.)
  • You'd need a mechanical backup for when the controller was down due to lack of power (and the fact that they would probably end up all running a full install of Windows for no good design reason. #cinicism) The mechanical backup would probably be exactly as secure as the mechanical systems we are currently using: not at all.

I suspect there is at least as much "cultural inertia" at play as the costs and reliability aspect. I think one might find that type of resistance even for the shift to using a foot petal for open doors. It's a bit of the out of sight out of mind situation. Oddly, for me, I frequently find myself walking up to a door only to realize it is not opening and I hesitate waiting for it to start before I realize I have to open it myself!

Will be interesting to see if, assuming things do get as bad as everyone seems to be making this to be, we see those types of operational/behavior changes propagating within societies.

I suspect there is at least as much "cultural inertia" at play as the costs and reliability aspect.

That may well be. "But we've always done it this way" is one of the most annoying things people say to me on a regular basis. (I often forget where the metaphorical box is that I'm typically presumed by other people to be thinking in.)

Will be interesting to see if, assuming things do get as bad as everyone seems to be making this to be, we see those types of operational/behavior changes propagating within societies.

Agreed. Tho, I plan on examining implementation of foot-operated doors in my home if it turns out to be reasonable, just for the convenience if nothing else. Just because nobody else is doing it right now hasn't ever stopped me from making improvements on my own if I can!

I imagine those would make life harder for people with pets or babies crawling around.

I'm certain they could be calibrated to require more force than a small dog or baby could apply to operate, or they could be locked by a positive stop mechanism beneath the pedal. Large dogs, some cats, and small children can operate many types of door opener anyway, so I expect we'd find ways around this issue just as we've done with what is now a standard doorknob.


Does it make sense to separate out the answers based on the direction of transmission on is worried about?