Have you ever thought about how many germs you come into touch with every day?
From door buttons to cell phones, it’s impossible to avoid them all. That’s why it’s important to wash your hands right if you want to stay healthy and stop the spread of sickness. But do you know how to wash your hands the right way?
How long do you need to scrub?
What are the best kinds of soap?
And can hand spray really replace soap and water?
I’ll answer these questions and more in this piece so you can keep your hands clean and healthy. So let’s jump in and start cleaning.
Importance of Hand Washing
Why is Hand Washing Important?
Germs can spread from one person to another or from a surface to a person if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands, make or eat food or drinks without washing your hands, or come into contact with someone who is sick.
One of the best ways to get rid of germs, avoid getting sick, and keep others from getting sick is to wash your hands often.
By washing your hands well with soap and water, you can help stop the spread of germs that cause diseases, like bacteria and viruses. Some stomach and lung infections can lead to major problems, especially in young children, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems.
Good hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses, from the common cold to more dangerous infections, such as meningitis and bronchiolitis.
How to Wash Your Hands Properly
Follow these steps to wash your hands right:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold)
- Apply soap
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
When to Wash Your Hands
Handwashing is important because:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating
- After using the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling garbage
- After caring for someone who is sick
Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them, and multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain circumstances, and make people sick. If your hands aren’t clean, they could get into the food and make it sick.
There are also many diseases that can be passed from one person to another.
The Risks of Poor Hand Hygiene
If you don’t wash your hands when they have germs on them, you could make your friends and family sick. Germs can make us sick by getting into the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. Respiratory illnesses usually spread when someone breathes in the droplets that a sick person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks into the air.
But dirty hands can also spread these germs.
Officials listed five specific risks that people take when they don’t wash their hands or contact with people who haven’t washed: airborne diseases, stomach diseases, E. coli, hepatitis A, and meningitis.
Christian Whitney, DO, an anesthesiologist and pain management expert for Restorative Pain Solutions, says, “If you don’t wash your hands, you could get dangerous infections and spread them to other people.”
The Benefits of Hand Washing
By washing your hands well, you can cut the amount of colds and other respiratory illnesses you get by 16 to 21%. Also, washing your hands often may cut the chance of getting diarrhea by up to 30%. To avoid getting sick and sharing germs to other people, it is important to wash hands often and well with soap and clean, running water.
Why Hand Hygiene Products are Essential for Clean Hands
When it comes to keeping our hands clean, soap and water are the go-to solution for most people. However, sometimes we need a little extra help to ensure our hands are free from harmful germs and bacteria.
This is where hand hygiene products come in.
Hand hygiene products, such as hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes, are designed to kill germs and bacteria on our hands quickly and effectively.
They are especially useful when we don’t have access to soap and water, or when we need to clean our hands on the go.
While soap and water are still the best way to clean our hands, hand hygiene products can provide an extra layer of protection against harmful germs and bacteria.
They are also convenient and easy to use, making them a great addition to any hand hygiene routine.
So, next time you’re out and about and need to clean your hands, don’t forget to pack some hand hygiene products in your bag.
Your hands (and your health) will thank you for it!
For more information:
Proper Hand Washing Techniques
The Five-Step Handwashing Technique
The CDC says there are five steps you should take when washing your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to scrub all surfaces of your hands, fingertips, fingernails, and wrists.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or let them air-dry.
Keep in mind that the tap and door handles may be dirty. After washing your hands, use a towel to avoid touching any of these surfaces as you leave the bathroom.
The Seven-Step Handwashing Technique
The WHO supports a seven-step handwashing technique. Here’s what you need to do:
- Wet your hands with clean, preferably running water.
- Apply enough soap to cover all surfaces of your hands and wrists.
- Lather and rub your hands together briskly and thoroughly, making sure to scrub all surfaces of your hands, fingertips, fingernails, and wrists.
- Scrub your hands and wrists for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands and wrists under clean, preferably running water.
- Dry your hands and wrists with a clean towel or let them air-dry.
- Use a towel to turn off the faucet.
When to Wash Your Hands
It’s important to wash your hands often, especially when you’re likely to get and spread germs. These important times are:
- Before, during, and after preparing food.
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.
- After handling pet food or pet treats.
- After touching garbage.
If you can’t find soap and water, you can clean your hands with a hand cleaner that has at least 60% alcohol.
Types of Soap for Hand Washing
Hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself clean and stop the spread of diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that you can wash your hands with both bar soap and liquid soap.
But you should know that there are some changes between the two kinds of soap.
Liquid Soap versus Bar Soap
In public places, liquid soap is usually better than bar soap because it is easier to use and won’t spread germs from one person to the next. Liquid soap is often available in public places because it’s safer to share with others.
Moreover, many liquid soaps include a hydrating agent, so your hands may not dry out as quickly from frequent cleaning.
On the other hand, bar soap can be used in a home if no one has skin diseases. People shouldn’t use bar soap in public places because it can spread germs from one person to the next. Avoid fragrances if you have sensitive skin because they can irritate it.
Choosing the Right Hand Soap
Look for a hand soap that doesn’t have parabens, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). A good hand soap kills germs without irritating your skin or making it dry out. The FDA says that using soaps with antibiotic ingredients doesn’t help your health more than using plain soap.
Avoid fragrances if you have sensitive skin because they can irritate it. Look for a bar of soap that says “fragrance-free” or “unscented.” There are no extra scents that could irritate your skin in these soaps.
Hand Sanitizer versus Hand Washing
Hand sanitizer is a quick and easy way to clean your hands when you don’t have soap and water. However, the CDC advocates washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because hand washing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands.
Hand sanitizer is better at killing bacteria and most viruses, but cleaning your hands will get rid of all dirt, germs, and chemicals. People who wash their hands a lot, like doctors and nurses, should switch between handwashing and using cleaning gel.
At the moment, the CDC says that you should wash your hands whenever you can.
As an antiseptic, hand sanitizers often have alcohol, like ethyl alcohol, as the active agent. But hand sanitizers don’t kill all germs. They aren’t as good when your hands look dirty or greasy, and they may not get rid of dangerous chemicals.
When and How Often to Wash Hands
One of the best ways to keep yourself and other people from getting sick is to wash your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that you should wash your hands when you are most likely to get sick or share germs.
Key Times to Wash Hands
The most important times to wash your hands are before, during, and after cooking, before and after eating, before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea, and before and after healing a cut or wound.
Other important times are after you blow your nose, cough, sneeze, touch an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, handle pet food or treats, or touch trash.
Proper Handwashing Technique
The CDC says you should do these five things to wash your hands right:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and turn off the tap.
- Apply soap and lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
- Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water and dry them using a clean towel or air dry them.
If you can’t find soap and water, you can clean your hands with a hand cleaner that has at least 60% alcohol.
How Often to Wash Hands
There is no set number of times a day that you should wash your hands. Instead, it’s about washing your hands when you should and making sure they are clean. If you cook food for your family or take care of a sick child, you may need to wash your hands more often.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, it is especially important to wash your hands. The CDC says that you should wash your hands often, especially when you are most likely to get sick or spread germs. Germs can spread from one person to another and in our communities, like your house, workplace, school, or daycare center, if people don’t wash their hands.
Encouraging Hand Washing
Washing your hands is a very important habit that can stop the spread of germs and diseases. Here are a few tips and myths to think about if you want to get other people to wash their hands.
Tips for Encouraging Hand Washing
- Use reminders: Setting up recurring reminders on a phone or using technology to prompt at regular intervals can help remind people to wash their hands.
- Make it fun or interactive: Hosting a hygiene awareness day or week can make hand washing fun and interactive. Teaching children the importance of hand washing and making it a habit can also be done by explaining why it is important and when to wash hands.
- Use disgust: Placing a sign inside each portable toilet that reminds guests to stop at the hand-washing station on their way out can be effective. Keeping the hand-washing area clean and making sure employees set a good example by practicing good hygiene can also encourage hand washing.
- Set a good example: By promoting hand washing and practicing good hygiene, we can prevent the spread of germs and illnesses and keep ourselves and others healthy.
Myths About Hand Washing
- Myth: It doesn’t matter how long you wash your hands as long as you use soap. Fact: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds to effectively remove germs.
- Myth: Hand sanitizers can replace washing your hands with soap and water. Fact: While hand sanitizers can be effective in killing germs, they are not a substitute for washing your hands with soap and water.
- Myth: Wearing gloves is more effective than washing your hands. Fact: Wearing gloves does not remove the need for hand washing. A hand hygiene event should happen prior to donning gloves. Gloves can have unseen defects or can be torn during use, providing a point of contact for the skin. In addition, bacteria can multiply rapidly in the moist environments underneath gloves.
- Myth: Washing your hands with hot water is more effective for germ removal. Fact: In fact, water temperature doesn’t affect germ removal at all.
Final analysis and implications
In closing, one of the best ways to stop the spread of germs and diseases is to simply wash our hands with soap and water.
It’s a habit that everyone should get into and keep up, especially now when cleanliness is more important than ever.
But washing our hands has more benefits than just being useful.
It’s almost like meditating.
It gives us a break from our busy lives and lets us focus on something as easy as how water and soap feel on our skin.
And maybe that’s the real value of washing your hands—not just because it makes your hands clean, but also because it makes you more aware and clear-headed.
So the next time you’re washing your hands, take a moment to enjoy this simple pleasure.
Who knows, it might just be the most refreshing part of your day.
Looking for a new Automatic soap dispenser?
Choosing a gadget can be very difficult if you know nothing about the technology.
Some will pay for features they do not need while others may not consider what they really want.
So I created this quick, newbie guide to help you focus on what is really important to you:
How to Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap
Tip: Turn on the caption button if you need it. Choose ‘automatic translation’ in the settings button if you are not familiar with the english language. You may need to click on the language of the video first before your favorite language becomes available for translation.
Links and references
- WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care
- Potter and Perry’s Fundamentals of Nursing: Second South
- Fundamentals of Nursing
- CDC guidelines on handwashing
My article on the topic:
Personal reminder: (Article status: rough)