SocietyMarch 11, 2020

Just a list of everything I touched in one day


The spectre of the coronavirus Covid-19 has reminded us all of the importance of hand-washing, face-touching and other basic hygiene. And it got Madeleine Chapman wondering: how many things do my hands come into contact with every day? 

In recording everything I touched over the course of a regular workday, I learned four things.

1. Having no children and working as a writer means I touch very few unknown surfaces, or things that strangers also touch. I walked to work and didn’t, say, go out for a drink on this particular day so public surfaces were kept to a minimum.

2. Even so, I touched a lot of things. And having to make note of everything I touched made me want to wash my hands every five minutes.

3. I touch my face a lot. And once I noticed how much I touch my face, I wanted to touch it way more.

4. The only thing I touch more than my face is my phone. That thing must be filthy and I touch it upwards of 100 times a day.

Every time I washed my hands it felt like I had refreshed my list (and therefore noted it as such). With hand-washing and vigilance around what we all touch being of particular importance at the moment, everyone’s thinking about what their hands are doing. I know for a fact that I touched my face at least 30 times more than I remembered. My face is never not itchy. But otherwise, this is everything I touched with my hands from waking on Monday morning to falling asleep on Monday night.

Phone. It’s grim but it’s true. Bedside lamp switch. Eftpos card. I wanted to read this article and signed up for the free trial. I’ll be paying for that sub until 08/22 when my card expires. Face. Eyes. Nose. Side of face. Whole face incredibly itchy all of a sudden. Inside bedroom door handle. Outside door handle. Outside bathroom handle. Light switch. Inside bathroom handle. Bathroom lock. Shorts/undies. Toilet paper. Shorts/undies. Flush button. Tap.


Tap. Toothbrush. Tap. Toothpaste. Tap. Tap. Mouth. Tap. Shower door. Shower tap. Bathmat. Inside shower door.

Full body refresh

Inside shower door. Towel. Bathmat. Bathroom door. Light switch. Bedroom door. Light switch. Face moisturiser. Sunscreen. Body moisturiser. Face. Lip balm. Clothes. Itch face. Lamp switch.
Laptop. Backpack. Shoes. Backpack. Phone cable. Backpack. Socks. Shoes. Hat. Headphones. Door handle. Light switch. Door handle. Back door handle. Lock. Back door handle.Phone.

Walk to work. Thought about touching my face 57 times. Actually touched my face eight times.

Empty cigarette packet because people always leave them by the smokers’ bench. Building door handle. Rubbish bin lid. Desk chair. Backpack. Laptop. Charging cable. Keyboard. Laptop touchpad. Anti-bacterial spray bottle (keyboard and touchpad refresh?) Nose. USB. Eye. Nose. Sellotape (there were little hairs on my t-shirt that I wanted to remove) Little hairs on my t-shirt. Bin lid. Scalp. Feel like I touched my face about 20 times and lost count. Takeaway container lid. Office tap. Wet cloth. Tap. Tea towel. Drawer handle. Cup. Tap. Cheek. Phone. Keyboard. Touchpad. Bathroom outside handle. Stall door. Inside door handle. Lock. Shorts/undies. Toilet paper. Shorts/undies. Lock. Stall handle. Tap. Soap nozzle.


Tap. Inside door handle. Paper towel. The bathroom was out so got one from the kitchen. Face. Face. Boardroom door handle. Chair. Mouse cable. Mouse. Face. Face. Face. Face. Oh no, face again. Door handle. Blanket. The aircon in our office is arctic. Ear. Face again. Backpack. Every single thing in my bag while unsuccessfully searching for a notebook. Phone. Food warmer door handle. Food container. Fridge door. Can of V. Eftpos card. Eftpos machine. Touch screen. Button [redacted]. Chopsticks. Boardroom door. Chair. Table. Coaster. Keyboard. Face. Chip packet. Chips. Mouth. Licked fingers. Keyboard. Mouse. Cheek. Forehead. Phone. Cup. Takeaway container. Compost bin handle. Compost bin lid. Tap. Wet cloth. Bin lid. Tap. Tea towel. Drawer handle. Dishwasher handle. Eyebrows. Scalp. Headphones. Keyboard. Eyes. Fridge door. Can of beer, it was a special occasion, alright. Printer start button. Paper. Coaster. Coffee table. Chair. Headphones. Keyboard. Mouse. Scratched both eyes at once? Scalp. Sour snake. Alex Casey’s hand, we both reached for a sweet at the same time. Recycling bin. Rubbish lid. Swipe card. Office door. Stairwell rail. Inside building door. Outside car door handle. Inside car door handle. Seat belt. Car touch screen. Phone. Inside car door handle. Outside car door edge. Front door knob. Front door edge. Aunt shoulder. Aunt shoulder. Cousin back. Cousin arm. Cousin back. Cousin shoulder. Greeting relatives is gonna have to change. Plate. Serving dish. Tongs. Serving dish. Chicken drumstick. Second tongs. Fork. Mouth. Dining table. Kitchen tap. Detergent bottle. Tap. Tea towel. Drawer handle. Cupboard handle. Bathroom door handle. Inside bathroom door handle. Shorts/undies. Scalp. Toilet paper. Inside pocket. Tampon, guess who got their period in the 15-hour window they decided to do this. I wasn’t expecting to write vaginal wall in this but vaginal wall. Toilet paper. Shorts/undies. Tap.


Tap. Inside bathroom door handle. Beanbag. Phone. Approximately fifteen consecutive minutes rubbing my head. Plastic container. Tongs. Cousin back. Cousin back. Cousin arm. Cousin arm. Cousin back. Aunt shoulder. Aunt shoulder. Inside front door handle. Outside front door handle. Outside car door handle. Inside car door handle. Seat belt. Radio touch screen. Phone. Inside handle. Backpack. Outside door. Front door handle. Front inside handle. Bathroom switch. Fridge door. Random pieces of mail. Eyes. Scalp. Cheek. Stair bannister. Backpack. Bedroom door. Light switch. Shoes. Socks. Bedroom light switch. Bathroom light switch. Inside bathroom handle. Lock. Shorts/undies. Toilet paper. Tampon string. Toilet paper. Flush button. Bin lid. Shower door. Shower tap. Bath mat. Inside shower door.

Full body refresh

Inside shower door. Towel. Pad wrapper. Pad. Clothes. Bath mat. Toothbrush. Tap. Toothpaste. Tap. Mouth. Tap. Hand towel. Lock. Inside handle. Light switch. Moisturiser. Backpack. A dozen miscellaneous shoes, clothes and rubbish in a brief attempt to tidy. Light switch. Lamp switch. Phone charger. Phone. Lamp switch. Phone. Forehead. Cheek. Eyes. Head. Phone.

Keep going!