1. When to wash your hands.
2. Proper hand washing technique.
3. Alternatives to soap and water.
With all that’s going on today, we don’t really think we need to get into great detail on the importance of hand washing. But are you doing it correctly? In our ever-increasing world of germs, hand washing is now a must have skill. Here’s how to correctly wash your hands.
STOPPING THE SPREAD
Germs are spread from people, animals, surfaces, and through the air. Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands is a very common way of contaminating yourself. Preparing food and drinks with unwashed hands, touching a contaminated surface, along with coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose are all ways germs and bacteria are spread. Knowing when to wash, is just as important as knowing how to wash. So when should you wash?
- Before, during, and after preparing food, especially before eating
- Before and after coming in contact with someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a wound or injury
- After using the bathroom
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal
- After handling garbage or suspect materials
- After leaving a public area in which you have touched something
Now, these are just a few instances. A general rule of thumb here: If you are contemplating whether or not you should wash your hands, just wash them. Keep yourself, and the people around you safe. It only takes a few minutes.
USING THE PROPER TECHNIQUE
Washing your hands is easy, but doing it correctly is imperative to it being effective. Dirty hands are the number one cause of the spread of germs. Follow these five simple steps to make sure you stop germs in their tracks.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water. Hot or cold water, whichever you prefer. Many people believe hot water is the best way to kill germs, however there has been no substantial evidence that cold water does any less of a job. So, if you like it cold, go for it. Turn off the tap once your hands are wet, and apply the soap.
- Lather your hands by gently rubbing them together. Don’t forget the backs of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails. These are the prime spots for germs to hide. It will make things easier if your nails are properly clipped, so make sure you’re keeping them trimmed on a regular basis.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. As a guide you can sing “Happy Birthday” twice to ensure you’ve hit the 20 second mark. However, we prefer the breakdown to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Right around 20 seconds and way more fun.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Again, hot or cold, it makes no difference.
- Dry your hand using a clean towel. If possible avoid air dryers, as the hot air they manufacture not only harbors’ bacteria, but can lead to dry, cracked hands. Pro tip: If in a public restroom, use the paper towel to open the door on the way out. Just in case not everyone is practicing proper hygiene.
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T WASH WITH SOAP AND WATER?
While it’s been proven that hand washing is the best method for removing germs, unfortunately it’s not always possible. That’s why it’s important to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer close by if soap and water aren’t readily available. Make sure you’re using a product that has an alcohol content of at least 60% to make sure you’re using something that’s effective. How to apply:
- Apply the hand sanitizer to the palm of one hand, a pea sized amount should do just fine. The key is to make sure to use enough to completely coat your hands, without using so much the alcohol dries them out.
- Rub your hands together until the product completely evaporates and your hands are dry. If your hands are visibly dirty you may need to apply a second coat, then wipe your hands with a towel, to remove any stuck-on dirt or grime.
Keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car, at work, and at home, is an easy and effective way to make sure your hands are always clean wherever you may go, even if soap and water aren’t readily available. Unscented hand sanitizer is a bit of a myth, the pure alcohol aroma it contains can be substantial and unpleasant. Keep it scented and be confident knowing your hands are not only sanitized, but also smell amazing.
Keep in mind, even if your hands appear to be clean, they may still carry germs. Our hands pick up microorganisms in numerous ways. If in doubt, just give them a quick wash or hand sanitize. It’s a simple way to do your part to keep everyone, including yourself, safe and healthy.
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