Almost everybody has a superstition that they follow; athletes are a prime example of this, as many of them have pre-game rituals they have to follow. Well, believe it or not, U.S. Sailors, specifically Navy chiefs, have their own superstitions, which is why Navy coffee mugs never get washed.
Why Navy Coffee Mugs Never Get Washed
Having a dirty coffee mug in the Navy, especially if you’re just starting out, can help to impress the older Sailors. Having the inside of your Navy mug be dirty and practically black symbolizes your seniority and apparently makes your coffee taste a little better.
According to some Reddit threads from Vets and others in the military, having a seasoned coffee mug is also a sign of pride within the Navy. Some Veterans say that, at most, they would only rinse their dirty mugs out with water, never with any detergents that could interfere with the taste.
Sarah Sicard, a reporter for the Navy Times, stated in the article she wrote entitled “Why Sailors Love a Filthy, Unwashed Mug,” “The first time I learned of this I was 23 and working in an office in Washington. The director, a Navy veteran whose cubicle I shared, had a note stuck to his mug that read ‘Don’t wash me.’”
Sicard then said that she confronted the Veteran, asking questions about the note. He said that not washing coffee mugs was something he started doing as a Sailor. Sicard stated, “He’d done this with his black coffee for so long, in fact, that he had simply grown to enjoy the taste of the weeks, months, or years old residue.”
Is It Ok To Not Wash Coffee Mugs?
Although Sailors keeping their coffee cups dirty may seem gross, believe it or not, it is scientifically proven that it is completely safe to never wash your coffee mugs. Navy coffee cups being constantly dirty and Sailors continuing to use the cups is actually not unhygienic.
If you are not sharing your dirty Navy coffee cup with other people, it is actually the most sanitary thing you can drink coffee out of. Since Sailors often have one mug that they claim as their favorite and use every day, Navy coffee mugs that are never washed are actually more hygienic and sanitary than a mug that is washed regularly and is used by multiple people.
Now, you may be wondering how the dirty mug is sanitary, even if used while the person is sick. Well, according to Jeffery Starke, an infectious disease expert from the Baylor College of Medicine, it is very hard to reinfect yourself with a virus. Most viruses that live outside of the human body tend to not live very long, so there is almost no way for reinfection to occur.
Now, obviously, if you put cream and sugar in your coffee and never wash the mug, mold will grow, and then drinking from the cup is unsanitary. But, Navy coffee is typically just strong black coffee with no cream or sugar, so the unwashed cup is more sanitary than you may think. We’ll admit, Navy coffee mugs being unwashed seems kinda gross, but we all have our superstitions and habits that we would never change, so who are we to judge?