Each day, you encounter hundreds of different surfaces. Doorknobs, shopping carts, pens, and hopefully many soap pumps and faucets. Right now, there are between 2 to 10 million bacteria on your fingertips and elbows. That’s pretty germy. Germs can also survive up to 3 hours on your hands, just chilling out and multiplying into more than 8 million germs a day. That is a lot of tiny organisms! When germs are not washed from your hands, they are easily spread from person to person causing illness and disease. Let’s talk about how to properly suds up.
The Best Way to Wash
According to the CDC, the process is quite simple.
- Wet your hands, turn the water off and apply soap
- Rub your hands together to lather up the soap, making sure to clean every surface between your fingers, under nails, your palms, and the back of the hands
- Scrub for at least 20 seconds
- Turn the water back on and rinse well
- Dry your hands with a clean towel and use the towel to turn off the faucet
Yes, turn the water off after you wet your hands. You should be scrubbing long enough that it would be a waste of water to have the sink still running.
Hands Down, Ditch The Sanitizer?
Now just because soap and water beats sanitizer, does not mean hand sanitizer wont work. It is just not as effective as a proper hand washing. Many people improperly apply hand sanitizer furthering the inability for it to work properly. It has been shown in many studies that hand sanitizers are not as effective at removing rhinoviruses, or the common cold, as well as influenza A or C difficile. Hand sanitizer are for when your hands have no visible dirt or grease, and when you have no access to a sink or soap. They do decrease microbial load, which is great for making do. The best way to use hand sanitizer according to the CDC:
- Put enough sanitizer on your hands to cover all surfaces.
- Rub your hands together until they feel dry (this should take around 20 seconds).
It is important to avoid wiping excess hand sanitizer off before dry, as this may prevent the hand sanitizer from working well against germs.
Why is important to wash our hands? Washing our hands prevents us from getting and spreading sickness. Many common respiratory illnesses caused by lack of washing our hands include the common cold, influenza, chicken pox and meningitis. Keep it clean to protect yourself and others, soap’d up and sanitized. Check out our tea tree oil blog on how to make your own sanitizer!
Healthcare, Tri-County. “Gross! Hand Hygiene and Other Germy Facts.” Tri Living Well, 13 Dec. 2018, www.tchc.org/blog/2018/12/12/hand-hygiene-and-germ-facts/.
“How Effective Are Hand Sanitizers?:” Keck Medicine of USC, 27 Mar. 2020, www.keckmedicine.org/how-effective-are-hand-sanitizers/.
“Hand Sanitizer Use Out and About.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/handwashing/hand-sanitizer-use.html.