Now more than ever, worldwide, people are discovering the true importance of handwashing — and the true cost of improper hand hygiene procedures. With an active cold and flu season underway and the coronavirus making headlines, proper and constant handwashing has taken center stage and for good reason. Proper handwashing and hand drying are the most effective way to control the spread of germs that lead to illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Learn the best ways to wash your hands and stay healthy below.
How to Wash Your Hands?
Washing your hands is a fairly simple process, but it does take a little bit longer than most people spend on it under normal circumstances. According to the CDC:
- Wet hands thoroughly with warm or cold water. Studies show that temperature has no impact on efficacy.
- Lather hands thoroughly with soap. Be sure to scrub under nails, between knuckles, and on the palms and tops of the hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse hands with clean water.
- Dry hands as efficiently as possible.
NOTE: Germs can be transferred easier with wet hands, so resist the urge to hustle out of the bathroom dripping. A high-heat, fast dry-time hand dryer, like the XLERATOR® Hand Dryer, can help get users’ hands completely dry in as little as 8 seconds, helping to impede the spread of germs.
What About Hand Sanitizers?
Hand sanitizers can be helpful, but the CDC recommends they be used only when handwashing and drying are not available. This is due to hand sanitizers not killing all kinds of germs and only working best in ideal conditions (i.e. when hands are visibly clean; most hand sanitizers won’t cut through visible dirt or grime). If you do not have access to clean running water and soap, reach for hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol and rub vigorously to the entire hand until dry.
When Should I Wash My Hands?
During an outbreak like COVID-19, handwashing should be done often – potentially multiple times an hour if you’re interacting with many people, or any time you’ve coughed, sneezed or touched your own face.
In general, though, follow the CDC’s guidelines for handwashing:
- While preparing food or eating
- After using the bathroom
- After treating someone medically (specifically for a cut/wound, vomiting, and/or diarrhea)
- After coming into contact with animals
- After handling garbage
It’s critical to teach children these handwashing moments to ensure they get into a routine of always washing their hands around the events listed above.
Good handwashing habits are critical to maintain year-round. Wash your hands thoroughly and often to stop the spread of germs and keep everyone you come in contact with a little bit healthier.