Moms know how to prevent the spread of germs and the importance of hand hygiene. Whenever mom nagged you to “wash your hands,” she did so because she knew hand washing is the number one way to reduce or eliminate the transfer of germs from one person to another or from an object to your immune system. However, you don’t need to just take her word for it – according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), washing hands is the best prevention against the spread of infectious disease.
Why Is Hand Washing Important?
In addition to limiting the spread of disease-causing germs, proper hand washing reduces the risk of transmitting antibiotic resistant germs (the so-called super germs), lowers the incidence of food related illness, and makes child care centers safer for the children who attend them.
Facts About Washing Hands
While most people claim to wash their hands after using a public restroom, a survey by the American Society for Microbiology uncovered a dirty little statistic. In reality, only 67% of the surveyed respondents actually washed their hands after using the bathroom.
Women washed up more frequently than men did after using the bathroom – 75% versus 58% – but surprisingly, folks of either gender were less likely to cleanse their hands after performing tasks such as petting animals, handling money or when they sneeze or cough. The survey was conducted as part of the American Society for Microbiology’s Clean Hands Campaign, and respondents were either observed or polled by telephone.
Where Do Germs Hide
Bathrooms and food preparation areas are havens for germs, but so are other , less well-known sources. To keep yourself healthy, protect others, and prevent the spread of disease-carrying germs, always wash your hands properly after:
- Cleaning up waste products from animals or humans
- When you are sick or caring for someone who is ill
- When you are wounded or treating a wound for another person or animal
- When you use shared objects such as telephones, headsets or computer keyboards
- After handling raw meat
- Before and after eating
- After using the bathroom
- After coughing or sneezing
- After touching or handling objects such as sinks, faucets, doorknobs or walls
- Before and after touching your face, eyes or mouth
- Whenever hands are visibly soiled
How to Do Hand Washing
Follow these steps to get your hands germ-free:
- Use the hottest possible water.
- Work up a lather with soap and wash hands and wrists, paying particular attention to nails.
- Wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds (time yourself by humming “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star).
- Rinse well under running water and rub hands together vigorously.
- Dry hands with a clean paper towel; use the towel to turn off the faucets and open the bathroom door so as not to re-infect your clean hands.
If you don’t have access to soap and water, the CDC does consider hand sanitizer to be an acceptable substitute, but using soap and water combined with the proper hand hygiene steps is still the best way to wash those germs down the drain and away from your hands and health. When you observe good hand hygiene by washing your hands, you are helping to prevent the spread of germs and disease.
American Society for Microbiology Survey, “America’s Dirty Little Secret – Our Hands”
Emma Pierce shares her thoughts for Intersafety, an independent distributor of workplace safety equipment, including clinell sanitising wipes, and dozens of products from coveralls to work gloves.