With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus aka COVID-19, authorities all over the world, and the World Health Organisation have been reminding us repeatedly to wash our hands with soap and water.
Infographics and posters teaching “how to wash your hands properly” are everywhere. You would be surprised to know that this has even become a thing on social media. As of now, there are almost 85,000 #washyourhands posts on Instagram!
I initially found the need to educate people on something so basic as washing their hands terribly funny. I mean, why do people have to be told to wash their hands? Shouldn’t it just be something that they do instinctively?
However, after some googling, I realised that there are actually surveys, studies and reports that revealed that most people do not wash their hands with soap and water as much as they should. Research, however, suggests that women are better at washing their hands than men (why am I not surprised). Although, the truth is that I have come across a number of women at public toilets that don’t wash their hands.
So When Should You Wash Your Hands?
Wash With Soap And Water Each And Every Time You Go To The Toilet
Toilets are breeding grounds for germs. They are basically where bacteria and viruses live, when they are not living on your work desk that is. Several pathogens like norovirus, E. coli, Shigella, hepatitis A and E and Streptococcus to name a few can be easily found in toilets and bathrooms (these baddies were found on door handles, sink taps etc, not just on the toilet seat that you diligently cover with toilet paper before you sit on) that can cause diseases like diarrhoea, flu, allergies and infections.
Every time you use the restroom, you must wash your hands with soap and water. An important thing to note here is that this does not apply only to public restrooms, but even your toilet at home.
Furthermore, yet another common misconception in this context that most people have is that you do not need to clean your hands if you didn’t do a poo. That is not true. In comparison to faeces, urine can be clean given you are not harbouring any infections, but it is not entirely clean. So, you must wash your hands every time you go to the toilet- be it outside or at home.
Wash Your Hands Before And After You Eat
Another time when you should not skip washing your hands is before and after meals. It is important to have clean, germ-free hands when you are eating- no matter how you prefer to eat- using your hands or with cutlery.
This is because when you are eating, your hands are most likely to have direct contact with either your mouth or the cutlery or both. And, it is important to wash your hands properly after a meal to ensure that no food particles are left behind, giving pathogens an ideal breeding environment. According to a study, the simple act of handwashing can reduce the risk of stomach bugs nearly by 47 %.
Wash Your Hands Every Time You Come Home From Outside
Every time you go outside, imagine the number of things you touch with your hands- from elevators to the railings of escalators and money to the doors of malls and supermarket trolley handles.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, around 80% of all infections are transmitted by hands. Hence, it is essential to thoroughly wash your hands using soap and water every time you come home from the outside.
So How Do I Wash My Hands To Get Rid Of Germs?
In general, all of us know how to wash our hands, but scientists suggest some essential tips that can help ensure maximum hygiene:
- Wash your hands with soap and water: While using hand sanitizers and wet wipes when you don’t have access to water is a good idea, the best way to clean hands properly is by using soap and water.
- Give it time: Most studies recommend washing hands for at least 20-30 seconds. Scrubbing each area of your hand with soap and running water is important to get rid of germs.
- Clean between the fingers and nails: Be mindful of hidden areas where pathogens can seek refuge like between fingers and in the grooves of nails. Clean them properly.
- Rinse thoroughly: Rinsing your hands with clean water is equally crucial after you are done scrubbing and lathering the soap.
- Carry dry towels or hankies: Avoid using tissues or hand dryers in public toilets. Instead, bring your hand towel.
Personally, it is baffling to me why so many people don’t wash their hands properly and as often as they should. Call me crazy, but I love clean things and clean people.
With the increase of so many diseases all over the world- from H1N1 to COVID-19- I think it is high time that we show some responsibility and stop being a disgusting breeding ground for germs.
Remember, cleanliness is next to Godliness and no one likes a dirty person!