Proper hand washing is the best defense against germs and sickness. But even after a global pandemic, people still don’t know how or when to wash their hands.
Have you ever:
- Seen someone sneeze or cough into their hand and continue on about their day?
- Witnessed a person not wash their hands after using the restroom?
- Cringed after you saw a stranger touch or do something gross with their hands without going to a sink right after?
Not only are these examples straight-up nasty, but they’re also dangerous. It’s simple behaviors like this that spread germs and sickness like wildfire. Lack of hand washing is one of the top ways diseases spread. In fact, 80 percent of common infections spread via contaminated hands.
In addition to this, only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women wash their hands after using the bathroom, according to the CDC. Lastly, one study found that only two in three people use soap when washing their hands, which means that harmful pathogens aren’t being removed from their skin and can be transferred to surfaces and other people.
You get it – hand washing is important. But here’s more information on why.
HOW DO GERMS GET ON HANDS?
Hands are covered in germs. Bacteria and micro-organisms get on hands a few ways.
Touch: From the time we wake up until the time we go to bed, we’re touching surfaces, objects, and coming into direct contact with other people. Unless you’re using hand sanitizer or washing your hands every few hours, those germs are clinging to your hands.
Sick People: If you’re shaking or holding hands with someone who already has an infection, it won’t be long before you begin to contract the same illness.
Contaminated Surfaces: If you come into direct contact with a contaminated surface such as a piece of gym equipment that has Staph or MRSA dwelling on it, there’s a strong possibility that you could develop symptoms.
High -touch surfaces like doorknobs, front desks, and light switches will require you to wash your hands soon after you touch them. These items are notorious for containing loads of germs since many people touch them each day. Do yourself, and others, a favor by practicing rigorous hand washing for optimum safety and protection.
GERMS ON HANDS AND SKIN
Germs multiply on skin quickly and are able to survive for up to three hours on your hands alone. Also, when you do something as simple as go to the bathroom, the number of germs on your hands double instantly. To prevent getting infected or spreading these germs, hand washing is necessary.
Some common pathogens that you’re likely to find on your hands include:
- Cold & Flu
These infections spread quickly and easily via hands.
REASONS WHY PEOPLE DON’T PRACTICE HAND WASHING
People are full of excuses as to why they don’t wash their hands. Even though we know it’s one of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease and infection, some still don’t do it.
Here are a few justifications:
- “I don’t have enough time to wash my hands.”
- “I’m too busy to wash my hands.”
- “I don’t know where the soap/towels are and I don’t want to look for them.”
- “The soap isn’t the kind I like.”
- “The water is too cold/hot.”
- “I don’t need to wash my hands, I didn’t touch anything dirty.”
- “My hands don’t look dirty so I don’t need to wash them.”
Sad, right? It’s frustrating when people refuse to keep themselves and others safe. But to be fair, many people weren’t taught proper hand washing and how important it is.
PROPER HAND WASHING
When done right, hand washing can:
- Prevent sickness
- Maintain good hygiene
- Keep hands germ-free
- Keep your home and family safe
- Prevent the spread of illness in your office or facility
How to effectively wash your hands in 5 steps
1. Wet your hands with water.
2. Apply one pump of antibacterial soap. Don’t want to use so much soap that you can’t achieve a good lather. You want to be able to create friction to remove the germs and gunk from your skin.
3. Rub the soap all over your hands. Get in between your fingers, under your fingernails, and the top of your hands. Do this for at least 30 seconds. Sing the alphabet to track time.
4. Rinse off the soap entirely under clear, running water.
5. Use a paper towel to dry your hands. Try to avoid jet and warm air dryers, as both have been shown to spread germs.
6. Apply 1 -2 squirts of hand sanitizer and rub the solution all over your hands – palms and fingers included.
If soap and water aren’t available hand sanitizer can be used to remove dirt, dust, germs, and grime from your hands. However, keep in mind that hand sanitizer SHOULD NOT replace hand washing with soap and water altogether.
HAND WASHING DON’TS
What are some major hand washing no no’s? Here are several hand washing mistakes and don’ts:
- Don’t NOT wash your hands, especially after using the bathroom
- Do not use more than one pump of soap
- You shouldn’t wash your hands for less than 30 seconds
- Don’t use hand sanitizer as a replacement for hand washing
- Fingers and nails matter – Don’t forget to wash between your fingers and under your nails
WHEN TO WASH YOUR HANDS
- Before and after eating.
- Prior to and after preparing/handling food.
- After using the bathroom.
- After visiting a public place and touching shared surfaces.
- Once you’ve come into contact with a contaminated surface.
- After you shake or hold hands with someone.
- As soon as you come home from work.
- After touching pets.
- After coughing or sneezing in your hands.
HAND WASHING = HEALTH + WELLNESS
In conclusion, hand washing is one of the best ways to stay healthy, promote and maintain wellness, and prevent the spread of illness and infection. Imagine the types of nasty bugs and viruses you’re protecting your body from when you take just 30 seconds to wash your hands a few times a day.
Not only will other people thank you for doing your part, but your immune system will too. Germs can quickly migrate from your hands into your bloodstream and cause many symptoms and complications of illness if hand washing isn’t prioritized.
Lucky for you, you’re a hand washing master now that you’ve read this article so that won’t happen. Above all, practice all of the tips listed above to stay healthy and safe.