There’s been a lot of talk about how to properly wash your hands. Since the coronavirus pandemic has impacted us so greatly we are all trying to stay safe and healthy. The CDC suggests that the most effective way to combat this pandemic is to stay home and to wash your hands. With that being said, it’s believed that only about five percent of the population is washing their hands correctly.
With this startling statistic it is extremely important to learn the proper hand washing techniques. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that you should be washing and scrubbing your hands for a minimum of twenty seconds. Most commonly people are washing their hands for an average of six seconds. This amount of time simply does not kill of the germs and bacteria that are on your hands.
Germs and bacteria can be transferred from your hands to other surfaces. When you touch your face and you haven’t washed your hands you are directly transferring those germs to your skin. There are many orifices on your face that make it easy for germs to invade your body. The eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, are all easy access points.
Obviously you should be washing your hands when they are visibly dirty. You should also be washing them before and after food preparation, after coming home from being out, after you sneeze or cough into your hands, after touching garbage, and after touching any animals or pets. During the current pandemic you should also be washing your hands any time you are leaving the house or touching any items or surfaces that may have been touched by someone else.
There are four easy steps to ensure the proper hand washing technique.
- Wet Your Hands: During this step it doesn’t matter if you are using warm or cold water. Simply wet your hands.
- Lather and Scrub: After applying soap to your hands you should rub the soap for at least twenty seconds. Washing the palms is not enough. You need to be scrubbing the backs of your hands, your knuckles, fingertips, insides of fingers, under your nails, and even your wrists. If you’re unsure how long twenty seconds is you can hum the Happy Birthday song twice or count to twenty slowly.
- Rinse: Rinse the soap off in clean running water.
- Dry: Dry your hands on a clean towel, with a paper towel, or let them air dry.
Since you cannot visibly see that the germs are gone you will really have to be sure you are scrubbing for at least twenty seconds. This is the only way to ensure that you are killing off any bacteria that may be on your hands.
If soap and water are not available you can temporarily use hand sanitizer. This is ideal for when you are in a public space or in the car. However, after you do arrive home you should immediately wash your hands.
Hand sanitizer does not kill all germs. In addition, it may not be effective if your hands are visibly dirty or sticky. This is why you need to wash them after returning home, or as soon as you can. If you are using hand sanitizer you must also be mindful of where you are applying it. It is not enough to just rub it on your palms. Be sure to cover both the front and backs of your hands as well as in between your fingers. Studies have shown that most bacteria resides on our fingertips and under our nails. This is why it’s especially important to emphasize those spots.
Washing your hands may seem like an easy enough task. However, if you are not taking the time to properly clean the area you are not really helping anyone. Learn the proper techniques and be sure to count to twenty.