Proper Hand Washing Technique: The Best Defense Against Disease

It’s been said time and time again: wash your hands to help prevent disease. Unfortunately many don’t heed those valuable words, and even more don’t do it effectively enough to get any benefit from it.

How hands are washed matters just as much as if hands are washed at all.

Why is Hand Washing So Important?

Germs are everywhere and they do not discriminate. Without thinking, hands can touch something that has a virus or bacteria on it, and in a moment that same hand can be touching a nose, mouth or eyes. This is the classic form of inoculation. The eyes, nose and mouth are doors into our bodies, and while the immune system is an amazing defense, it simply cannot fight off everything that comes against it.

If it’s not possible to get to a sink and wash hands, a hand sanitizer made of mostly alcohol can be sufficient. Alcohol can kill germs, but it does not remove dirt. It’s more of a temporary fix than a replacement for actual hand washing.

How to Wash Hands Effectively

  • Wet hands with warm water.
  • Lather with soap and scrub the palms, back of hands and under the nails for twenty seconds.
  • Rinse hands thoroughly
  • Dry with a paper towel.

Why Scrub for Twenty Seconds?

It may seem like a long time, but friction is what actually helps to loosen dirt and effectively remove the microorganisms that make people sick. Leaving out this step is what leaves people with hands just as dirty as before, though perhaps a little more wet.

Is Warm Water that Important When Washing Hands?

Warm water may not actually help kill microorganisms, but soap tends to lather better with warm water, and the soap is what is effective at removing dirt. For those who don’t want to wait until the water gets warm from the faucet, just be sure to scrub for the recommended twenty seconds.

Is it Necessary to Use a Paper Towel?

It’s not imperative that a paper towel be used to dry the hands, especially for the sake of waste, but it is better than using a reusable towel, especially in a public place. Bacteria and microorganisms easily breed in cloth towels, so to ensure that hands are dried on a clean surface, a paper towel is recommended. Air dryers are also efficient and environmentally friendly.

When to Wash Hands

The best habit is to wash hands whenever a task is changed. That means washing hands after using the restroom, before eating, after touching pre-cooked food, and especially after touching anything in a public space or after shaking someone’s hand. If it’s not possible to wash hands immediately or no sanitizer is available, simply do not touch the eyes, nose or mouth. That will also help prevent infection.

Read More: Beware Of Chemicals In Food.

Get into the Habit of Hand Washing Now

As the flu season approaches, and the threat of swine flu begins to grow again, it’s more important than ever to develop a habit of good, frequent hand washing.