What do your hands say about you?

Everyone knows that the best way to stop the spread of germs is with regular hand washing. Now learn how and when you should wash your hands.

Hand Washing

We are told constantly to wash our hands and keep our personal hygiene to a maximum. The truth is that 1 in 5 people don’t wash their hands and of those that do only 30% use soap. With the rise of the coronavirus along with many other viruses, it has never been more important to wash your hands throughout the day before and after you do anything to reduce cross-contamination. Follow our 5 tips to help get yourself into a habit of washing your hands.

Washing your hands properly removes dirt, viruses and bacteria to stop them from spreading to other people and objects, which can spread illnesses such as food poisoning, flu or diarrhoea.

There are roughly around 7.7 billion people and counting on this glorious planet that we call home, with 67 million living in the UK. We take for granted the importance of handwashing, and this is why so many people catch the common cold and flu symptoms due to the lack of knowledge.

During the winter months cold and flu symptoms rise and spread easily. This is due to changes in the weather. People spend more time indoors when the weather is poor. Where is the best place for bacteria to spread? That’s right indoors where people are in close contact and the warm heating is on, providing a prime environment for bacteria to multiply and spread.

Good hand hygiene is vital during the cold and flu season. Contact with other people throughout the day, touching contaminated surfaces, and even petting animals can cause a variety of cold-causing germs to accumulate on your hands. Then by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, you can infect yourself if you don’t wash your hands often enough. Touching someone else or touching a doorknob or other surface can then spread cold germs to others.

You should make a habit of washing hands for at least 15-30 seconds in warm soapy water, especially after coughing or sneezing and before eating. Teach children to wash their hands as well. If you do not have access to water, you can use an alcohol-based disinfectant hand gel with at least 60% alcohol content.

Changing Dirty Nappy

When should you wash your hands?

You should wash your hands:

  • after using the toilet or changing a nappy
  • before and after handling raw foods like meat and vegetables
  • before eating or handling food after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing
  • before and after treating a cut or wound after touching animals, including pets, their food and after cleaning their cages

Best Way to Wash Your Hands

The best way to wash your hands to prevent the spread of colds is by using warm water and soap or an alcohol-based antibacterial soap hand sanitiser. Water alone does not dislodge a lot of bacteria, but soap helps break down germ-carrying oils. Soap also encourages rubbing and friction which can remove germs from the hands, ensuring the germs are easily rinsed away with clean water. Using soap also adds to the time spent washing and ensures a more effective wash. It has been estimated that our hand’s harbour around 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimetre of skin on our hands. So keeping them clean should be a priority before and after we do anything.

13 Steps to Proper Hand-Washing

If using soap and water for the correct hand-washing techniques we recommend you follow these thirteen steps which can also be found on the NHS website.

  1. Wet hands with water.
  2. Apply enough soap to cover every part of the hands.
  3. Rub hands palm to palm.
  4. Rub back of each hand with the palm of other hands with fingers interlaced.
  5. Rub palm to palm with fingers interlaced.
  6. Rub with the back of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked.
  7. Rub each thumb clasped in opposite hand using a rotational movement.
  8. Rub tips of fingers in the opposite palm in a circular motion.
  9. Rub each wrist with opposite hands.
  10. Rinse hands with water.
  11. Use elbow to turn off the tap.
  12. Dry hand thoroughly with a paper towel or hand dryer.
  13. Cleaning hands should take 15-30 seconds. Not sure how long this is? You could also sing happy birthday twice as you are washing your hands.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers make a good substitute for hand-washing when soap and water is not available. If you’re using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, apply the product to one palm, rub your two hands together, making sure to reach all surfaces, and continue rubbing until hands are dry.

For the sake of washing your hands on a regular basis for 15-30 seconds, you are not only protecting yourself but others around you. What would you rather have? 15-30 seconds of handwashing or one to two weeks of cold and flu? You make the choice.