Cleanliness has taken on a new look. Public bathrooms have sinks and soap dispensers that don’t require you to touch them, and are also equipped with paper towel dispensers that are automatic. Hand sanitizers come in different scents and can be attached like an accessory to your purse or backpack. But how clean are your hands, really?
Many of us reach for that bottle of hand sanitizer rather than going to the restroom and washing up. While hand sanitizers are helpful, they only kill bacteria. This means that they do not actually clean your hands, nor do they kill any viruses lurking there. Hand sanitizer is good when you’re on the go or need to quickly disinfect, but it should not replace regular hand washing.
Washing your hands regularly is one of the easiest and best ways to prevent illnesses. Aside from washing your hands after you sneeze or cough, you should also wash your hands each time before you eat. How many of us reach for that sandwich as we’re typing that final email? Washing hands should also happen after using the bathroom, changing diapers, petting animals, or handling garbage.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the hot water that makes a difference in how clean your hands get – it is how long you spend lathering and scrubbing each part of the hand. Scrubbing for at least twenty seconds (that’s Happy Birthday sung twice), including the backs of the hands, in between the fingers and under the nails, will help clean the hands of dirt and grime as well as bacteria or viruses.
So the next time you’re at the end of your 15-minute break and are tempted to rinse your hands and go, consider what 20 seconds of soaping up can do.