The Five-Second Rule Has its Limitations

If this fell on the floor, and my beasties got it before me, I'd cry a river of tears.

You know you’ve done it.

You reach for your favorite dessert, cookie or the last piece of cake. You’re a bit clumsy so you kinda drop some. You look around to make sure no one is looking and scoop it up quickly, popping it into the intended target (your mouth). And if someone does notice? “Five-second rule!”

I grew up with the five-second rule. Most people did. I mean, what’s the harm, right? It’s only on the floor for a second or two.

Mostly because in my house, the five-second rule means the two-second rule because of DOGS. And also KIDS. If you’re dropping it, it’s fair game. So don’t drop it if you come over to my house, mmkay?

But let’s look at this for a second. Unless you live in Buckingham Palace, chances are your floors are a little dirty. Even freshly mopped. Even just swept. And especially if they’re carpet. If you drop something at my house, there’s a pretty good chance you will pick it back up off the floor with long, dark dog hair stuck to it. Wanna eat it now? I didn’t think so.

The average floor, though, has dirt and bacteria on it. Think about it. Everywhere you’ve been, all day long, sticking to the bottom of your shoe. And tracked in your house. Even in my house, where we kick shoes off immediately upon entering, I don’t trust the floors. I pretty much know EXACTLY what’s on them even. But the rest of the world? I have some concerns, to wit:

  • Other people’s gum. Which has been in other people’s mouths. Which has other people’s germs on it.
  • People spit on the ground. With their mouths. Saliva, like. And you step in it.
  • Ever walk through the subway? What does it smell like? Right. Pee. Just sayin’.
  • And the worst one? DUDE. If you dropped that cookie into a pile of dog shit, would that five-second rule apply?  Yeah, didn’t think so.

Look, I’m guilty of it. I’ve prepared dinner and dropped a few cubes of potato or cut up apple and rinsed them off and tossed them into the pot. I’m just saying THINK ABOUT IT. If it can’t be cleaned off, you probably shouldn’t stick it in your mouth. Just because you can’t see the dirt doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I’m looking at you, bacteria and germs!

Now that you’re sufficiently grossed out, my work here is done. If you’ll excuse me, I think I spot an M&M under your chair. The dogs don’t eat those.  A green one, too. My favorite color…

About Marj Hatzell

Marj Hatzell climbed Mount Everest, explored the Amazon and swam across the English Channel. Not really, but she's the mother of two kids with special needs so SAME THING. She prefers dogs over people, which means she has STELLAR social skills. Marj isn't a writer but she plays one on tv. Marj also goes to eleven. You can find her at her non-paying day job, the wildly unsuccessful blog The Domestic Goddess, on Twitter, and on Facebook. She also has a not-so-new and definitely-not-successful-and-ignored blog at The Crazy Dog Lady and Facebook page no one visits.


  1. Tex A. Saurus says:

    5 seconds seems a bit short. I use the eight second rule.

  2. 5 seconds seems a bit long, but I’m sure we’re a guilty of dropping stuff and then picking it up and eating it, except my 10yo who thinks that’s the grossest thing ever. He won’t share drinks either. If we’re out and everyone is thirsty, but there’s only one drink in the car, he’ll just go thirsty until we get home.

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  3. dawn says:

    [Elicited comment to increase Marj employment.]

    also–that’s gross. ;p~ (that’s dog hair on the emoticon)

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