Washing hands regularly with soap and warm water is one of the most effective ways to prevent catching or transmitting a communicable disease.
With the recent spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, hand-washing becomes especially important.
But that’s too easy, you may say. It’s just a little soap and water. How can that help?
Why is hand-washing effective?
Hand-washing is effective because it gets rid of germs that inevitably collect on everyone’s hands. We explore the world with our hands and touch thousands of objects daily. We then touch our faces, noses and eyes, also quite inevitably. To prevent this easy ride of bacteria and viruses into your system, proper hand washing is the best tool!
The inverse is also true: if you do get sick, washing your hands regularly prevents the spread of germs onto surfaces that other people may touch. When everyone washes their hands frequently and thoroughly, everybody wins.
What is the proper way to wash hands?
- Use soap and warm water. In the absence of warm water, cold water will do. The absence of soap decreases the effectiveness of the method, although not considerably.
- Wet your hands and apply soap liberally. Soap up your hands, not forgetting the backs, palms, thumbs, and between the fingers. Gently rub soapy hands together. Continue for at least 20 seconds!
- Wash the soap off with warm water.
- Turn the tap off with your elbow (since your hands are clean now!) and dry off with a paper towel.
- Wash your hands every time after going to the bathroom, after going outside, before eating and cooking.
- It’s also a good idea to avoid touching your face. It’s harder than it sounds but a habit well worth developing!
The 20-seconds rule
A lot of people understand the importance of washing hands but don’t do it long enough. 20 seconds is recommended – about as long as it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday”. Tired of the birthday tune? You can generate your own hand-washing infographic with your song of choice.