15 People Just Revealed the Hygiene Norms They Break When They’re Alone (…and Some Might Be Super Relatable)

Updated: Jan. 31, 2024

None of us is immaculate—in fact, you can probably think of a gross habit or two you engage in yourself. Americans around the country were willing to 'fess up about their secret funky fouls.

Man picking his nose in bed.
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Recent research suggested that upwards of 90% of Americans—ahem—clean their noses in private, despite possible health risks of nose-picking. The truth is, in many cases, our alone-time habits are harmless. After all, most of us have probably at least one habit our loved ones decry if they’re present to witness it.

To prove our point, we asked readers around the country to share their secret solo behaviors…that they’re pretty sure everyone else does too, but won’t admit. How many of these can you relate to? (Cough, cough—taking the phone to the bathroom!)

Yummy peanut butter breakfast on grey background, space for text and closeup
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1. Licking peanut butter out of the jar

“I love peanut butter just on its own, and it feels like such a waste to get out utensils and a bowl and everything,” says Kristy P., 62, of Columbus, OH. “So when I’m solo, I’ll just use my fingers. But I smooth the top back over so my family won’t know. Yes, they end up using the same jar later. I told you it was gross!”

The 6 Worst Germ-Swapping Habits It’s Time To Break Post-Pandemic

man with pants on the ground
Massimiliano Finzi/getty images

2. Itching…places

“Ah, there is nothing like a good scratching to really make a man feel good!” says Brian R., 47, of Portland, OR. “But it’s really not socially acceptable, so I’ll wait until I’m alone to go to town. You changed my name, right?”

(Yep, we changed his name!)

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Cropped shot of woman pointing to acne occur on her lower face.
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3. Popping zits (and recording it?!)

“People don’t realize, but there are so many people online that are obsessed with watching people pop pimples,” says 18-year-old Charlie S. of Minneapolis, MN. “I bought an extractor tool with a camera attached. When I’m home alone, I’ll record it. It’s so satisfying popping a pimple, but it’s 100 times better watching other people be satisfied with your pimple-pop, too!”

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A bowl of popcorn on a bed
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4. Eating messy snacks in bed

“My bed is my happy place and if I’m home alone, that’s where I’m gonna be—cuddled up under the covers and watching Gilmore Girls reruns,” says Ally S., 17, of Spanish Fork, UT. “And obviously, I’ll need snacks. I eat popcorn, ice cream, cookies, whatever, and yes some of it ends up in the sheets with me. I once woke up with a plastic ice cream spoon stuck to my hair.”

We fully support the some indulgent downtime.

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Hands of a woman washes a red menstrual cup with water under the tap at the sink. Alternative feminine hygiene product concept during menstruation.
Dmitriy Galaganov/Getty Images

5. Cleaning a menstrual cup

“I personally don’t think this is gross but my family does, so I only do it when I’m home alone,” says Ashley M., 26, of Boise, ID. “I use a menstrual cup instead of tampons or pads when I get my period, and it needs to be sterilized at the end of every cycle. I do this by boiling it for 15 minutes in a saucepan. I rinse it off first! But my family still thinks it’s horrible.”

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Close up of woman touching dirty oily and greasy hair looking in mirror at home. Time to wash head with shampoo
Maryviolet/Getty Images

6. Skipping showers

“I have little ones at home so I’m rarely alone, but when I do have the house to myself I want to do…nothing. That includes hygiene things. I don’t shower, wash my face, brush my teeth—nada!,” says Nanci F., 40, of Lincoln, NE.

Here’s How Often You Should Really Shower, Say Doctors

Raw cookie dough mixed
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7. Eating raw cookie dough

“I’ll make a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough—yes, the kind with eggs—and eat it raw. It’s a little gross, but it’s so much better than eating them cooked!” says Sarah B., 35, of Memphis, TN. “But probably the grossest thing about it is that gluten gives me terrible gas. Good thing I’m alone!”

Oh, No! Your Worries About Eating Raw Cookie Dough Are True-ish

Man in blue jeans at home, diet and overeating concept
Staras/Getty Images

8. Sniffing belly button odor

“I love to stick my finger in my belly button,” says Adam T., 23, of Phoenix, AZ. “Don’t you tell me y’all don’t do that too, I know you do! Everyone likes their own belly button smell.”

10 Crazy Facts You Never Knew About Your Belly Button

Landscape bathroom shower
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

9. Peeing in the shower

“When I’m showering, I’ll just take the opportunity and pee. It saves water, washes down the drain, it’s fine,” says Leo S., 29, of Atlanta, GA. “I only do it when I’m home alone!”

How Bad Is It to Pee in the Shower?

Cosmetic products on beige knitted background. Beauty and makeup concept
Alina Buzunova/Getty Images

10. Trying strange makeup looks

“In another life I would have been a makeup artist, but these days the closest I get is trying out crazy, outlandish, and weird makeup looks. I do a lot of stage makeup or costume looks,” says Lia F., 28, of Evergreen, CO. “I wait to try out new makeup styles until I’m alone because I don’t need any judgment from family members!”

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close up of mouth burping
ArtisticCaptures/getty images

11. Letting gas go

“I don’t know why, but sometimes I just have a lot of gas that gets pent up. So when I’m alone I’ll just let it fly!” says Priya S., 45, of New Albany, OH. “It’s so satisfying not holding anything back!”

Why Holding in a Fart Can Be Harmful

person picking their nose
Alican Lazutti/getty images

12. Nose-picking

At least Shaun S. of Naperville, IL admits to what data suggests most of us do behind closed doors: “Whenever I was stressed out as a kid I would pick my nose,” he says. “There was just something really soothing about it … The thing is, it’s so gross, but it still works. At least now as an adult, I do wash my hands afterwards.”

Burps, Sneezes, and Hiccups: 10 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Bodily Functions

naked legs on couch
mapo/Getty Images

13. Sitting naked on the couch

“I hate shopping, so I have just enough clothes for the week,” says Jaxson T., 20, of Austin, TX. “If I wait one day too long to do laundry, then I’m out of clothes so I’ll just strip and hang out on my couch butt naked until they’re done. Obviously I wait until my roommates are gone!”

Those roommates might want some savvy couch-cleaning tips

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Man using a smart phone while sitting on the toilet
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14. Taking the phone in the bathroom

“My toilet time is my favorite time to catch up on texts or watch videos or play games on my phone,” says Jason A., 32, of San Francisco, CA. “Everybody does this even if they won’t admit it—so is it really ‘gross’ anymore?”

How Gross Is It to Bring Your Phone Into the Bathroom?

Cropped Hand Of Person Flushing Toilet In Bathroom
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15. Skipping hand-washing

Especially with virus season upon us, we definitely don’t recommend this one: “When other people are around, like in public bathrooms, I will do what I call ‘performative hand washing,'” says Claudia M., 33, of Boston, MA. “I always wash my hands with soap and water.”

She says when she’s alone, the practice tends to be less thorough—that is, unless, she goes number-two, when she adds that she washes her hands “no matter what.”

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