Carrying Clean Too Far? Gadget Attack!

>> Thursday, March 11, 2010

Those of you that have been reading this blog for awhile probably know that from time to time I pick a product and ... well ... pick on it. I've written about sheets, my car's bluetooth, shower curtains, tablecloths, Wii-Fit (a game I really do enjoy), fancy cat food dishes, coffee mugs, GPS devices, condiments, superglue, DVRs, and a whole bunch of stuff in my first "Why?" post. In fact, there are probably more that I can't even remember. (Wow that was a long list.)

Today, I will be taking my potshots at that new hands-free soap dispenser thingy being sold for use in the home. The general idea is that this gadget is a refillable soap dispenser that dispenses soap through the use of motion sensor technology. In theory, you place your hands under the spout, and out comes a perfectly portioned glob (or foam dump) of soap for your hands. I am not even going to discuss how it will probably actually work in your home. Just think back to some of those motion-sensor sinks in new-fangled bathrooms and the people waving their arms wildly around trying to turn the water on and you will get your own idea. Let's just hope it stops when you walk away, that's all I'm going to say.

You probably have run into these nifty soap gadgets in newly remodeled airport or restaurant bathrooms where the toilet also flushes for you and paper towels emerge when you wave your hand near the pretty red light on the paper towel machine.

The idea is that you should not have to touch a "germy" soap dispenser. Your precious hands should not have to be exposed to that kind of risk.

I had to think about this for awhile. I really have been wondering for at least a few weeks whether I am missing the point.

Now, I can see some merit to the argument (albeit barely) in a public restroom. The whole idea, so we are trained to think, is to get in and out by touching as little as possible. To a limited degree I can understand this approach. Despite the faded signs on the door telling us that the store cleans the bathroom every so many hours, we don't really know when they did it or how well they did it. I mean, let's face it. I was once one of those "bathroom cleaners" when I was a young lass of 18 or so, and I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I'm sure some places do a very good job (the pay toilets under the Eiffel Tower come to mind), but my point is that you can't be sure unless you see the cleaning being done. "Experts" (whoever they are) even advise us to open the door with a paper towel so as to avoid contaminating our "clean hands". Of course, for my opinions on this approach and how a concerned citizen must choose between the Earth and the Pandemic, see here.

On a related note, the more automated the system, the more "cool" it is, and some of those bathrooms do everything except open the door for us and hand us toilet paper. Why not automatic soap dispensers? Certainly it can help cut down on excessive pumping and that puddle of excess soap that seems to be on every sink that does not have an automatic dispenser.

So, yes, for a public restroom, or a fancy bathroom, I can see the appeal.

But at home?

The advertised idea is that no one should have to touch that dirty soap pump and get all those germs.

Umm, wait a minute. Don't you touch those germs immediately BEFORE you wash your hands? Aren't those hypothetical germs washed away right then? And, seriously, if you are worried enough about germs to think that you need to get this soap dispenser, do you also have to have automatic flushes for the toilet so you don't get those germs before you wash too? Or how about faucets so you don't touch the handles (before or after you wash)? Or how about an automatic door so that your squeaky clean hands don't touch the yucky doorknob?

I guess I just don't see how an automatic soap dispenser really helps. Now, if you think such a gadget is cool, or if you are otherwise decorating in advanced automata, then fine. I don't exactly agree with you, but okay. It's a choice. I choose to wipe the handles and doorknobs a lot with cleaning wipes, but whatever. You probably wouldn't like my decorating style either.


WriterGrrl March 11, 2010 at 10:41 AM  

Ha! I totally agree...I blogged about these for my day job recently. But yours is funnier.

Karin Kysilka March 28, 2010 at 5:55 PM  

Wait ... I've read your work. I'll bet you managed to sneak a lot of "snark" into that piece of yours.

As usual, we are of the same mind. I'm beginning to agree that we may be long lost sisters.

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