Hand hygiene is incredibly important, seeing as how it can drastically impact your overall health. Your hands are the parts of your body that interact with the surrounding world the most.
They are the extremities you use to clean your home (which makes them interact with the filthiest objects and elements in your vicinity). They’re the same extremities that you’ll use to ingest food, scrub your face, rub your eyes, etc. The thing is that you’re doing these things subconsciously, which means that any effort to avoid such behavior cannot be successful.
The only way to protect your health is to learn how to wash your hands properly. With that in mind and without further ado, here are the top five things you need to know on the subject matter.
1. Knowing when to wash hands
Sometimes, knowing when to wash hands is obvious. When you touch something unsanitary, you might feel as if you can physically sense the filth on your hands. This would make you impulsively run to the bathroom in search of some water, soap and clean towels. Still, it is important to wash your hands in some other scenarios, as well.
For instance, whenever food preparation or consumption is in question, it is essential that you wash your hands. Also, after using tissues, a handkerchief or after smoking, it’s usually a good idea to wash your hands, as well. Handling animals may be a way of life for you but it is also quite unsanitary.
Then, there are the issues we won’t even mention because they are so apparent. This is because everyone knows that they should wash their hands after changing diapers, using the bathroom or taking out the trash.
2. Proper hands washing technique
Knowing how to properly wash your hands is also quite important. First of all, you should wet your hands with clean running water. The temperature of the water is not as important as the intensity of the stream.
Keep in mind that you need to wash the entire surface of your hands. The problem is that your perception of what area of your hands you’ve washed is subjective and probably quite inaccurate. The downside is that while your hands will be wet, water doesn’t leave marks on your skin, which is why it’s so easy to miss that you’ve skipped a spot.
There’s a demonstration where, instead of soap and water, they used black paint in order to make it abundantly clear why a proper technique is so important. Watching it and memorizing all the steps is incredibly important.
3. Facts and trivia
When it comes to the raw data, it seems that in just 30 minutes, we’re exposed to an average of 840,000 germs. Remember, this is not a scenario where you’re doing something particularly dirty or extreme. It’s a regular scenario in which you come into contact with regular surfaces around you.
It is also important to remember that just 20% of people wash their hands before preparing food. This means that even if you fall into the minority of 39% of people who do wash their hands before food consumption, you’re still not safe from germs that come from poor hand hygiene.
Drying hands is also incredibly important, seeing as how damp hands are 1,000 times more likely to spread bacteria. Now, towels are quite risky, as well, seeing as how they see repeated use and the fact that their moist nature seems to be ideal for the growth of bacteria. This is why more and more restaurants and organizations are purchasing hand dryers as an alternative.
4. Myths about hand hygiene
Since handwashing is so important, a lot of people are trying to use the topic in order to assert their own intellectual authority. However, not all “facts” that these people spout are actually confirmed or relevant. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there that you should debunk in order to increase your level of hand sanitation.
First of all, it’s definitely important for how long you’re washing your hands. Second, hand sanitation is never a replacement for soap and water. The temperature of the water doesn’t make any difference in the cleanliness of your hands. If anything, drying out your skin will only make it a better breeding ground for bacteria.
Lastly, you need to keep in mind that there’s virtually no advantage to using antibacterial soap. All soaps are equally effective and you can’t really get an edge by choosing one soap over another.
5. Starting at a young age
Teaching your kids to wash their hands is incredibly important, seeing as how people will naturally abide by habits they adopt at a young age. This means that they won’t ever have to ‘remind’ themselves to wash their hands if you teach them to do so since they’re young.
The proper technique is important but it’s far more important that you make it fun for them. You can do so by getting a kid-friendly dispenser, come up with a soap game and do the best you can to hold their attention. Another method you could use is to come up with handwashing puzzles or a handwashing theme song.
Previously, we’ve mentioned that they’ll quickly adopt it, well, until that moment arrives, you need to remind them. Soon, however, you shouldn’t be surprised if they start reminding you. Their mind is a clean slate which allows them to adopt new rules more quickly or more effectively. Just make sure not to make it feel like a strict rule and you’ll quickly have their attention.
At the end of the day, washing your hands properly is a simple enough task. The challenge lies in doing so properly, doing so regularly and remaining at the top of your game every single time. Sure, it’s not an easy thing to do but your health is definitely worth it. Also, washing hands is a habit that, once developed, will come to you as naturally as breathing. All you need to do is show some focus and commitment.