Coming Clean

I’m not an officially diagnosed germaphobe, but I play one every so often.

To be clear, I don’t wear masks in public.  I don’t walk around my house with rubber cleaning gloves on.  {My house is not even that neat.}

But I do confess that I have become increasingly obsessed about cognizant of germs.  I think I’ve seen one too many of those news segments.  “Tonight at 11:  You’ll never believe what our scientists found after swabbing doorknobs, elevator buttons and escalator handles.”

I shouldn’t watch.  This stuff stays with me.  It makes me want to wear a Hazmat suit.

Not really.  But let me come clean here, so to speak.

First:  I may or may not be addicted to Purell. I bust it out a lot.  Travel sizes in the diaper bag, the car.  A standard size pump at the ready at home.  I should probably sit on their Board of Directors.

Next:  Wet Ones.  You know, the wipe things.  Also in my car, my house and my bag.  I guess in case I fall victim to a Purell thief.  I have a back up.

And of course:  Hand washing.  I know this is really the solution here.  So don’t you worry, I get maniacal insistent about that too.  Again, not like I-need-my-own-reality-show levels, but I hear myself saying to my kids all the time “Did you wash your hands?”

“With SOAP?”

I wasn’t always like this.  Au contraire.  But somewhere along the way, years of living in the city got me hooked on Purell.  That was the gateway drug.

Then I had my first child and I became an unrecognizable Sanitation Crazy.  You know the type.  I blame it on post-partum hormones.

It started with one of those steam sanitizing machines that people get for a newborn’s pacifiers, bottle parts, etc.  I latched right onto this thing like a lifeline.  I boiled water.  I steamed.  I washed my hands.  A lot.  The thought of that small infant getting sick became a bit of a fear.

I think it sort of snowballed from there.  Because I can’t really blame post-partum hormones four years later.  And aren’t you supposed to relax about this stuff with your second kid?  I missed that memo.

But, look, I know there’s a fine line between “Let’s not be covered in filth” and “Hi, I’m Crazy Mom.”  And I know you can’t shield kids from everything.  I know, I know, I know.  So, before you go calling TLC to film a segment on my craziness, just know that I’m trying to let this go a little.

But it requires baby steps.  Meaning, I am learning to relax about this stuff in general.  But please don’t expect me to loosen up my Purell Death Grip in any of the following environments that don’t have soap and water:

–Public restrooms

–Petting zoos

–Grocery shopping carts


–Restaurant high chairs

–New York City in general (just kidding — partially)


Purell seems to do pretty well.  So it can’t be just me keeping them in business.  Right?

Anyone else want to come clean here?


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  1. Jen T. says:

    I’ll give you the public restrooms (add the door handles in said restrooms to my personal phobia list) and petting zoos. You’re on your own for the others, however.

    Incidentally, I have never owned a bottle of Purell and Emily has never missed a day of school due to being sick in 9 years. Ryan has asthma, so he is a little more susceptible. We’ve never been blessed with your stomach bug (I cringe as I type that). Soap is fine.

    Loved your Mrs. Vogel story, btw.

    • fordeville says:

      Let me clarify. Public restroom door handles are implied — as are any and all features of said restrooms. And a 50-foot perimeter.

  2. Throw that Purell in the trash. You’re helping to “pump up” (I mean that as in Hans and Franz) all the bacteria that are becoming immune to anti-bacterial products. That’s a problem.

    With that said, I am a bit of a germaphobe myself. Soap and water gets the job done, but I always carry wipes just in case. I turn off sink faucets in public bathrooms with a paper towel and also use one to open the door. If I told you the horrors I’ve seen in the bathroom at work, you’d die, especially considering the occupations of some of the people. Ugh.

    Now back to that Purell…You’re visiting the petting zoo, your kids are all licked up by the mangy goats, and you pull out the Purell. You squirt some in their hands and they rub it all together with goat spit, albeit now nicely sanitized goat spit. Eeeeeeewwwwwwwww. That’s why I always carry a wrench to turn on the fire hydrants wherever I visit. 😉

    Great post.

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks to you, I had the image of sanitized animal spit in my head all day after we visited the zoo yesterday afternoon. Thanks for that 🙂
      And, yes, of course I too use a paper towel to open the public restroom door. I cringe to think who wouldn’t.

  3. Jessica says:

    I have a hard time getting my oldest daughter to shower, let alone wash her hands with soap. But when it comes to hand sanitizer, they are all over it. They love it. I’m not going to complain about that.

  4. i used to sit next to a germophobe at work abt 8 yrs ago now but i still follow most of her (crazy) ways.

    also, after sitting by her? i will never eat at a serve yourself buffet again. she taught me even at whole foods, get it from behind the counter not the self-serve.

    • fordeville says:

      I totally agree on the buffets. Nastytown.
      Also, the other one that gets me is hotel comforters. My mom told me years ago never to let them touch my face — and then she told me why. To this day, my sisters and I would rather freeze to death in a hotel than allow a comforter near us.

  5. Erica says:

    Don’t feel bad. I carry a hand sanitizer spray in my purse. I keep a foam pump hand sanitizer on my desk at work. I always spray my hands with the sanitizer after shaking hands with people, regardless of whether or not they see me do it. I conveniently take a walk every time the “peace be with you” hand shaking thing happens in church. Leaving a public restroom, I grab the handle with a paper towel. Oh and if that weren’t enough, I also carry Lysol To Go in my pocketbook! :0

    • fordeville says:

      You are my sanitized soulmate! Thank you for not leaving me hanging out there all alone in Crazytown.
      I *love* that you skip the “peace be with you” in church — I thought that God wiped away all germs, even on the chalice. Or did Vatican II change that also?!

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