The Importance of HandwashingNo matter where you work, play or relax frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. Many diseases and conditions are transmitted by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. People do not realize it, but studies performed at the University of California found that the average office worker touches their eyes, nose or lips at least 15.7 times per hour. Just imagine how much indirect physical contact your hands encompass. Door knobs, computer keyboards, light switches, steering wheels, and phones are all objects loaded with germs that are potentially one touch away from making you sick. Frequent hand washing may not totally protect you from getting an illness, but it will help tremendously in the fight against spreading germs.
When Should You Wash Your Hands?
- According to the CDC:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the restroom
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
How should you wash your hands?
- Wet your hands with clean, running water.
- Add hand soap, lather by rubbing hands together. Make sure to get between your fingers, the back of your hands and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean paper towel or air dry them.
- The FDA found “no evidence” that antimicrobial soaps, such as those containing triclosan, keep people healthier than regular soap. Overuse of antibacterial products can reduce the amount of healthy bacteria on a person’s skin, which can make antibiotics less effective in the fight against new strains of bacteria, called superbugs.
- After washing hands in a restroom always use a paper towel to open the door when exiting.
- If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content are an acceptable alternative.
Source: 1 Nicas M, Best D. A study quantifying the hand-to-face contact rate and its potential application to predicting respiratory tract infection. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2008;5(6):347–352. doi:10.1080/15459620802003896