I consider myself to be a bit of a geek/nerd connoisseur. I say this not to establish my authority on the issue I'm going to address, but to let the readers know I have some level of sympathy with the following group:

Hygienically challenged geeks/nerds.

You guys seem to like to hover by me because I'm friendly and inclusive. Speaking of hovering - over eagerness can hurt you, socially. That's another issue I'll address later. You're well-intentioned, but there are certain social rules people stick to in order to make everyone around them more comfortable. The hard part is, not many people actually take the time to explain these rules directly. (They make the mistake of assuming that they're obvious. To some, these social cues/rules just don't pop up in their minds as must-dos. Or even as should-dos.)

Here are some basic rules to adhere to...

1) Brush your teeth. Every day. With toothpaste. Twice a day. Once at the bare minimum and only if you really, really can't do it the second time. We all mess up and miss it here and there - usually a late, late night where getting up to put in all that much effort is not as alluring as just going to bed. But then you *must* brush them when you wake up. You might not think you have bad breath, but other people can tell. They just won't let you know. And you'll be judged. Silently. Mouthwash is also a good idea. If you have allergies, acid reflux or asthma, you should take extra care with oral hygiene. These things can cause bad breath.

2) Shower. You don't have to shower everyday unless you do something that makes you sweaty - or if you live in a really humid climate where you feel sticky all of the time. If you can smell you, then other people can *really* smell you. And it's not good. Aim for at least every other day - use soap and shampoo.

3) Change your clothes regularly. If it's a sweaty day, throw those clothes right into the hamper. Don't bother giving them the smell test, just send them straight to the must-be-washed pile. You can possibly get away with wearing something two times, at worst three if you are desperate. But if you are sweaty or it is humid, you should not wear an article of clothing more than once. You need to work up the motivation to do the laundry, or just buy more clothes if this is an issue. Ties and suit jackets are exempt from this rule. Ties almost never need to be washed (just make sure you switch them out regularly.) Suit jackets only need to be dry cleaned if they're getting a lot of use, if they smell, or if they are visibly dirty. Err on the side of washing things too much. No one ever minds the smell of fresh laundry.

4) Fingernails. They should be spotless. As a rule of thumb, guys should keep them neatly trimmed and short, girls can get away with having them be a little longer. The problem there is that longer nails tend to show dirt. You should glance and your nails now and again during the day to make sure there isn't anything icky hiding out under them. If there is, clean it out and wash your hands. Also: Don't chew or pick at them. The resulting bloody stubs look gross and unclean. Clip off hangnails if they get bad.

5) Speaking of hands, wash them. Every time you go to the bathroom. After you eat (preferably sometime before you eat, too, but that's a safety issue for you, not a hygiene thing for others.) Anytime you do something that makes your hands less than clean. That includes when they get all sweaty from playing too many intense video games. Believe me, I've been there. Just get up, walk over to the sink, turn on the water and wash those suckers. You may also want to wipe down your controller with rubbing alcohol once in awhile.

6) After you eat, make sure you haven't dropped food on yourself or your immediate vicinity. Check your face and your hands as well. If you find anything at all, clean it up immediately.

7) Chew with your mouth shut. Also, don't talk with your mouth full.

8) Watch your shoes. Shoes can get to a point where they stink. If/when they develop any noticeable odor, you can try anti-smell powder/spray. If that doesn't work, you need to give up and get new ones. If shoes are visibly dirty anywhere but the sole of the shoe, clean them. If there's something particularly icky on the sole of the shoe (gum/poo/tar/mud/etc.) wipe it off.

9) As for bags and backpacks, it's nice that you've had the same Jansport bag since high school, but it's probably filthy. At the very least, wipe off anything that's noticeably dirty and wash anything that's fabric and washable once in awhile. This could be as often as once every two years or once a month, depending on where you leave that thing. Don't be that guy with the fabric backpack that has developed a sheen from filth.

10) If you're going to use your laptop in public, it should be very, very clean. No icky stuff on the monitor and, for goodness' sake, get crumbs, hair, dust and other bits and pieces of anything out of the keys.

11) Before you leave the house in the morning, wash your face and look in a mirror. Make sure you don't have anything lingering in the corners of your eyes or in your nose. If you have allergies, you may want to check this more often - 2 times a day or more. The corners of your mouth can also be suspect - some people tend to get a little white crust there. Make sure you're not one of them.

Bonus for guys: Cologne can be a fantastic thing. But only if it's really subtle. The best way to put it on is spray it once in front of you and walk throught the mist before it disappates. You really want to just barely get it on you. Too much cologne annoys everyone.

Bonus for girls: Makeup can be a good thing, but you need to make sure to be careful when you apply it. If done improperly, it can make you look dirty as opposed to polished. It's better to wear just a little bit. Make sure your eyemakeup doesn't smear throughout the day, keep the lipstick within your natural lipline, and check for anything that might gather at the corners of your mouth.

Chances are that I've forgotten something here, but I felt I should put this out on the internets.


Sam said...

Is it alright to dance about in your underpants and throw biscuit crumbs about?

Pragmacat said...

Only if they are Spongebob underpants.

Sam said...

Yogi Bear underpants and that's my final offer.

Pragmacat said...

Hmm...let me talk it over with my lawyer.

And, seeing as he's still two years from graduating law school and probably three years from passing the bar, it might be awhile.