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How Long Can Sperm Live on Your Hands After You Wash Them?

There are few things a little soap and water can’t fix

Updated 7/8/2022

It’s happened to the best of us — your hands are absolutely riddled with cum, and you’ve gotta shake hands with the mayor in five minutes. But what if even after you’ve washed your hands, you accidentally transfer some of that semen onto the mayor who goes home to finger her wife, unknowingly impregnating her from your cum-soaked mitts? You gotta be prepared for this kinda thing!

Actually, very few parts of this story are based in reality. For starters, it’s nearly impossible to impregnate someone via fingering and an invisible amount of cum on your hands. You simply wouldn’t have enough viable sperm on your skin for the odds of even one of them surviving the journey to the egg to be plausible. Sperm also only live for a few minutes on any surface exposed to air. But most importantly, if you properly wash your hands, no sperm could survive the suds. 

According to the website of Charles Lindemann, a cell motility expert at Oakland University, both tap water and soap will murder any sperm living on the surface of your paws. Sperm will be “killed by fresh (tap) water due to osmotic shock (they ‘explode’),” an FAQ section on his site states. “Soaps and detergents such as those used for laundering and handwashing also kill them, as these substances strip off the cell membrane (‘skin’) of the sperm. These methods kill sperm very quickly.”

While sperm cells and germ cells are a bit different, soap basically affects them the same way. In fact, soap molecules are shaped somewhat like sperm cells, with a little head that bonds with water and a tail that bonds with oil and fat. When it meets a germ or sperm cell, these little tails become wedged into the membrane of said cell, breaking it apart and rendering it useless. Everything then gets washed down the drain along with the water and suds. Back to the question, then: how long does sperm live on your hands after washing? Zero time. None.

But if tap water and soap can cause sperm to explode, what about all those myths and rumors about not being able to get pregnant in a hot tub or pool? Those remain untrue. The vagina produces its own mucus that’s specifically designed to help protect sperm when it’s unleashed inside of it. Moreover, because of pressure, the vagina doesn’t actually fill up with water when it’s in a pool or hot tub. So, if you cum inside someone’s vagina in a pool, your sperm is gonna be pretty safe in there. Also, please don’t put soap into your orifices to kill the sperm. That’ll almost definitely lead to a rash or infection.

Anyway, if you’re worried about the longevity of whatever semen might be on your hands, rest assured that they’re semen-free after you’ve washed them. You can go shake the mayor’s hand in peace!