Drinking Straight From Container - Gross, but also Unsanitary?

My Hubby, who in most ways is beyond reproach, has one particularly disgusting habit that I’d love to tackle. He drinks straight from the containers in our fridge. The water pitcher, juice, pop - whatever. He’s convinced that as long as he doesn’t create “backwash”, then he hasn’t contaminated the remaining contents with his spittle. I think it’s utterly gross. We have plenty of cups, for crying out loud.

Is there any hard argument against this behavior? He might respond to reason - nagging is doing absolutely no good.

I would argue that it is almost impossible to prevent backwash; any contact between his mouth and the bottle will transfer bacteria, which could then find their way into the drink (they won’t just be on the outside of the neck) and set up shop for runaway reproduction.

But doesn’t the refrigerator prevent (or at least significanty slow down) the “runaway reproduction” of the bacteria?

You could try to use reason with him, but then your husband can claim he’s actually purifying the drinks because saliva has anti-bacterial components.

When you kiss your husband you’re ingesting his mout bacteria in even greater numbers. So what’s all the paranoia about? :wink:
Let alone that the container is already contaminated by bacteria that float in the air when you open it. Your refrigerator’s atmosphere is rich in fungal spores, if you keep vegetables and cheese in it. Neither of these will kill you.
The only reason I can think of why you think drinking out of the can is gross, is that you’ve been told so by your own parents when you were little and believed them. :smiley:

Your husband is merely proud of his ignorance. He is inoculating the material with whatever microorganisms are in his mouth. Were he to do the same with sterile media and then put it at a higher temperature, there would be bacterial and fungal growth.

If nagging doesn’t help, and the reasoning so far offered seems “iffy” at best, I’d try this: tell him that your preference that he not drink out of the containers may well be irrational; tell him that it doesn’t really matter if it’s irrational, it’s important to you, and could he please respect it on that level? I’ve tried this with a couple of different arguments with my hubby, and it’s worked. As long as you are as giving when it comes to a preference of his that doesn’t make sens to you.

Best of luck!

I drinkl out of container all the time but I live alone. If I lived with just a wife I think the reason for not doing it would be more a matter of manners than of hygiene. If anyone else is going to drink out of that container, then it is a matter of hygiene.

One of the reasons Hepatitis and other comunicable diseases are rampant in China is the poor hygiene. Everybody eats out of the same communal dish and puts their chopsticks in it after they have put them in their mouths and diseases get passed around like that.

In India it’s considered “gross” to ever let your lips or mouth touch something that might have been used by someone else. So when Indians drink from, say, a water bottle, they hold they bottle away from their mouths and pour the liquid in.

Very orthodox Hindus will even adhere to this practice when it comes to freshly cleaned cups and glasses - they always pour the liquid into their mouths.

One of the things I learned from homebrewing texts is that human mouths are full of, among other bacteria types, lactobacillus bacteria. (One book recommends that, if you simply must start a siphon for bottling/beer transfer with mouth suction, that you gargle thoroughly with high-proof brandy immediately before beginning the siphon, and suggests filling the tube with water anyway to get it started.) Yes, kissing your husband is likely to transfer bacteria between you two, but backwashing into containers will let some bacteria get a chance at using the nutrients in there to reproduce quickly and make colonies. A little bacteria may not be such a big deal. A lot of bacteria is another matter.

Refrigeration only slows down this process. If it halted it, we wouldn’t have any problems with moldy food in fridges, and that’s certainly not the case.

Thanks for the replies, I knew Dopers would come through! I return to battle, newly armed with an array of weaponry, both practical and sublime, and determined to arrest this behavior once and for all!!

I blame his mother for this Mowgli habit…but that’s a whole other thread!

Damn hamsters ate my post; straight from the bottle.

Apollon kissing someone means you ingest a sample of their flora - your body can cope with this(usually); drinking from a bottle means you introduce a sample of your flora to an environment where there are suitable resources for reproduction and no immune system. As scr4 suggests, refrigeration does attenuate bacterial growth, so the risk is probably slight, but it is still bad practice.

The bacteria in cheese are benign and can be eaten in great quantity with no ill effects; some of the bacteria that live on a normal person’s skin, given suitable resources, conditions and time for reproduction, can make you very ill indeed, or even kill you (the elderly, very young and otherwise infirm are most at risk).


I live alone so I go through cartons of milk (etc.) quite slowly. After years of noticing spoilage during long term storage foods in the fridge, I find that open containers of milk will last for many days (sometimes weeks)… but only if I always use a glass. If I drink out of a milk carton, even with no backwash at all, it goes bad in a couple of days. Probably just the slight contact with lips is all the contamination it needs.

On the other hand, if I POUR milk into my mouth out of a carton, the milk still lasts for ages.

This only applies to milk. Open containers of fruit juice still last for ages if I drink out of the container without backwash. No doubt the acid in the juice kills the few organisms my lips put in. However, if I intentionally deposit lots of backwash, then fruit juice does turn to wine or vinegar prematurely. Perhaps giving the bacteria population a huge kick like that will push it way up high on its exponential growth curve. And possibly a large colony of bacteria can combat the acid which would kill a few individual organisms.

Conclusion: if you usually use up a carton of milk within a day or two, then mouth contamination is not much of an issue because it take longer than that for the bacteria population to explode. But if you use up milk slowly over an entire week, and if you notice that open containers of milk never last very long, then you know whose mouth is to blame for early spoilage.

PS, when you catch a cold, at first you have no symptoms, yet you are contagious. For roomates who aren’t “sharing mouth bacteria,” you might have justification if others spread viruses. In other words, a always treat all guns as loaded, and always treat all roomates as contagious. Don’t invite friends over, since if your husband has just caught a cold or flu, but has no symptoms yet, then your friends might pick it up from contaminated milk, juice, etc. Of course if you never have friends drinking your stuff, then it’s not an issue.

acsenray: aha! I’m not Indian, but that’s exactly what I’ve always done. Unless the bacteria are like salmon and can swim upstream, it solves the contamination aspect, though not everyone likes the aesthetics.