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CDC asks people to stop washing, re-using condoms: ‘We say it because people do it’

Welcome to 2018. We weren’t sure if we’d make it here, and it’s definitely not going the way we expected it to, but here we are.

It’s been a long road. If you remember back to the beginning of the year, we had people eating tide pods. Okay, fine. Whatever. If that’s what you want to do with the rest of your (now) short life, have at it.

Then there was the snorting condoms thing. Mind you, that was just March of this year.

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We’ll ignore all the things that have happened in our government, because that would just be too much. (But each word of this sentence links to a different article if you’re inclined.)

And now, the CDC has to come out and tell people to stop washing and re-using condoms because this is quite possibly the most 2018 thing that could have ever 2018’d.


On the one hand, we have the fact that people would do something as stupid as simply washing a condom and re-using it. Take a second and imagine what this would look like. Think about where it’s been, what was inside it, and what would likely remain that needs washed away post-coitus. Go ahead, take all the time you need.

After cleaning, they would have to air-dry the “cleaned” condom. Or maybe they used a blow-dryer, further adding to the comedic effect of the situation. I prefer to think of condoms draped over a clothesline as neighbors watch in horror.

Then, they’d have to put the damn thing back on, which would be uncomfortable for everyone involved, because if you think it’s a good idea to wash out a condom, you probably don’t see any value in using lubrication.

So as you can see, the hypothesis of being able to wash and re-use condoms fails on multiple levels.

But I think there’s something more behind this than just simple ineptitude of horny humans.

Maybe people are just trying to save money. Perhaps this is what late stage capitalism looks like?


Abstinence-only sex education has proven to be a failure.

Yep, this is probably it.

It’s far more likely that this is a product of “abstinence-only” sex education, which teaches teens to simply “not have sex” instead of treating them with respect or like the young adults that they are. This adds to the mountain of evidence that demonstrates that abstinence-only sex education is a massive failure.

About half of all high school-aged youth reported having engaged in sexual intercourse. Contrary to what conservatives would want you to believe, states where abstinence-only education is emphasized have a higher teen pregnancy rate.


It’s no surprise that the more you tell youth “don’t do it,” the more likely they are to engage in the behavior you’re trying to discourage. In fact, research suggests that more control can lead to more rebellion.

Controlling parenting has been associated with lower levels of intrinsic motivation, less internalization of values and morals, poorer self-regulation, and higher levels of negative self-related affects. (Source)

Abstinence-only education is a disservice to our youth. It encourages things such as “virginity pledges,” which are laughably ineffective. Teens who make such a pledge are just as likely to engage in oral or anal sex and have similar STI rates. Virginity pledges don’t work and actually increase the likelihood of risky sexual behavior.

In reality, abstinence-only sexual education has its roots in promoting faith-based beliefs. Not only that, but it shames sexual behaviors and can even lead to confusion for those questioning their sexuality in the first place.

Most adults overwhelmingly support comprehensive sex education.

If anything, abstinence education should be a part of comprehensive sex education that discusses puberty and sexual health. We need to be honest with youth and treat them like young adults when it comes to sex education. While it might be awkward for adults to talk about, you are the product of two people having sex. It’s important that our youth be informed and educated so if they do decide to have sex, they have information to help them do so safely.

You can learn more about safe condom use from the CDC’s website.

So whatever you do, remember that condoms are single-use, and for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (sauce be upon him), don’t wash or re-use condoms.

Portions of this post were previously published.

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.

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