Hand washing is a significant part of the prevention of the spread of diseases.
Frequent hand washing with ordinary soap and water can protect you from many ailments caused by bacteria and viruses.
Washing eliminates germs you get on your hands when you touch infected surfaces, people, or anything in general. These microscopic pathogens can be found anywhere at any given time. They can be on your phone, money, keys, doorknobs, etc.
If these infective germs were to remain on your hands for an extended period, sooner or later, you would unconsciously touch your face, or nose, eyes, or mouth. And just like that, the germs have entered your body.
This is why it is imperative to turn hand washing into a regular habit. However, when washing your hands, it must be done correctly, or else you defeat the entire purpose of trying to safeguard yourself and your health.
How To Wash Your Hands Correctly
According to scientific studies, the following should be done when washing your hands:
- Remove all jewelry.
- Lather with soap and scrub, cover all areas of hands and fingers, including your nails.
- Rinse under running water.
- Turn off the faucet by using your wrist or elbow.
- Dry your hands with a single-use towel or by using a forced air drying ( However, turn on the dryer with your elbow).
- Pat the skin dry instead of rubbing to avoid cracking the skin.
- If disposable paper towels are used, throw in the garbage immediately. (Scraping the skin can cause bacteria to settle on the skin and ease the spread of viruses and other pathogens).
How Long Should You Wash Your Hands?
However, concerning these world-renowned sites, they are incorrect. What exactly do they mean “at least 20 seconds“? Some websites state that you should hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. In other words, that will amount to about 20 seconds.
Scientific studies have shown that washing your hands for 20 seconds is not enough to eliminate viruses and bacteria from your hands.
An elaborate research paper on the efficacy of hand washing to avoid disease was published in 2007, showing 30 seconds to a minute is needed to get rid of pathogens.
Page S45 of the report said the following:
- “For handwashing, a hand-rubbing time of 15 seconds with soap is generally recommended, although the data in Table 10 indicate that 30 seconds to 1 minute is needed to achieve the optimum of 2- to 3-log reduction.”
The studies prove that the recommended handwashing time of 20 seconds does not get rid of germs.
More so, it would help if you were careful when drying your hands also because wet hands can spread germs more than dry ones.
The proper procedure of how to dry your hands is not emphasized enough, and it is just as crucial as the washing process. It takes about 20 seconds to thoroughly dry your hands if you’re using paper or cloth towels and 30–45 seconds if you decide to use an air dryer.
If the above scientific studies are adhered to, it will take one to one and
half minutes to properly wash and dry your hands in order to slow or stop the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Other Essential Things To Be Mindful Of When Washing Your Hands
- Do not use someone else’s bar of soap. Bars of soap are capable of spreading pathogens from person to person. (See page S46). Try to use liquid soap if possible.
- Be careful of the water splash from the sink and drain. Someone infected could’ve left germs there before you. The splash can infect your hands (See “(IV)Risk of contamination by a simple hand wash.”). My suggestion is not to turn the water on too high when washing your hands.
Hand Washing The Proper Way
This video shows you the correct way to wash your hands. You will notice that it is much longer than 20 seconds.
You will also notice that he turned off the water with his elbows. This method will ensure that you get rid of any possible germs that have colonized on your hands.
Is washing your hands for an extra minute or so worth not catching or spreading a contagious or deadly disease?
The evidence is clear; you need more than 20 seconds to to wash your hands correctly.
During seasonal or pandemic outbreaks, it is imperative to wash your hands properly. TRY YOUR BEST NEVER TO TOUCH YOUR FACE!
Hand washing can prevent diseases and save lives!!!!!