Are You Doing It Correctly? 10 Effortless Tips on How to Properly Wash Your Hands



One of the ways people interact with the world is through touch. It is likely that you touch many things every day, including your nose, mouth, eyes and dirty surfaces.

When you get to the office, shaking hands with your colleagues is a habit. This exposes you to more germs, as you don’t know what they have touched on their way to work, including their cell phones.

This exposes your hands to harmful bacteria and germs, and washing them is important, as it helps you avoid getting infections or spreading them.

Did you know that cell phones are far dirtier than you think? A study carried out by Arizona University found out that they harbour ten times more bacteria than most toilet seats.

Hygiene is the first line of defence against germs and infections. Stop the spread of germs in your workplace by offering your workers effective handwashing solutions. These include sanitisers and soaps. In this article, you will learn 10 tips to properly wash your hands.

Tip #1: Washing Your Hands the Right Way

A study by The Harvard Medical School concluded that the right way to wash your hands is to rub them together for 15 seconds after you apply soap.

FACT: washing your hands with water and soap is enough to get rid of germs, dirt, bacteria or viruses and can help minimise the risk of diarrhoea by nearly 50%.

Proper handwashing includes cleaning the fingertips, the back of the hands and the palms thoroughly.

When you wash your hands with soap and water, you greatly reduce more bacteria than when you use water alone. Here are the steps to washing your hands the right way to keep them free of harmful bacteria.

  1. Rinse your hands under running water that is at a comfortable temperature.
  2. Apply soap. Try to include foams, liquid formulas and those with moisturisers.
  3. Lather up your hands for at least a minute. Spread the lather to cover your entire hands, including wrists, between your fingers and under the fingernails.
  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly and dry them.
  5. If you are in a public washroom, use a paper napkin to turn off the faucet and turn the doorknob/handle when leaving.

Tip #2: When to Wash Your Hands

There are different instances when you should wash your hands, whether you are at work, school or at home. Keeping your hands clean helps you stay healthy. It’ll protect you from infections and harmful germs while helping you keep the environment around you clean, too.

Wash your hands before and after:

  • Handling, eating or feeding a child
  • Playing in water that is used by different people, like water table
  • Preparing beverages and food
  • If you work in the healthcare industry
  • Applying a cream or an ointment to an injured person with cuts, scrapes and sores on the skin and giving medication

Wash your hands after:

  • Changing a baby’s diaper
  • Using the washroom or helping a child use one
  • Cleaning up animal waste or touching animals
  • Handling bodily fluids such as blood, mucus, and vomit,
  • Touching sores, mouths, or noses, especially after sneezing or blowing your nose
  • Playing outdoors
  • Cleaning
  • Playing on wooden playsets or in sand
  • Handling garbage
  • Coming into contact with dirty objects or when in high-traffic places

Tip #3: Keep Your Skin Moisturised and Clean

Too much of anything has negative consequences, including hand-washing. If you constantly wash your hands, leaving them red, dry and rough, you are overdoing it. Cracked hands are more susceptible to infections from bacteria and germs.

Use a moisturising soap after washing your hands to avoid dryness. You can use a lotion or cream, too.

Tip #4: Consider Your Storage and Soap

Soap Dispenser 2
Wall-mounted soap dispenser

Soap can spread germs and bacteria to your hands if not stored properly. When stored incorrectly, bacteria grows on the soap, and these harmful microorganisms get transmitted to the user during the hand-washing process.

In New Zealand, among the top sources of workplace infections and illnesses are bacteria and germs people pick up on their hands while in the toilets.

Employees use washrooms every day, which increases their chances of coming into contact with germs. It’s therefore important to have an efficient first defence which starts with hand-washing.

Provide your employees with soap dispensers to avoid a germ invasion in your washroom soaps. There are different soap dispensers to meet every business’s needs and washroom design.

Choose from liquid, spray or foam soaps, among other options. All these are hygienic options, and when used properly, they enable excellent hand hygiene.

Tip #5: Do Not Overdo It

Some people including children like to wash their hands frequently. This could be a sign of anxiety or even a condition known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with this condition have anxiety about dirt, germs and fear of contamination. To deal with the anxiety, they end up washing their hands for prolonged periods.

People with hand washing OCD are filled with fear of contamination and will wash their hands non-stop until they are raw, chapped and even bleeding.

This creates an easier route for cross-contamination if they get exposed to bacteria and germs. This condition is treatable, and anyone suffering from it should seek assistance.

Tip #6: What to Do if There Is No Soap or Clean, Running Water

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on 15 October every year. This campaign is meant to raise awareness of using soap for handwashing as a preventative measure against diseases.

What do you do if you don’t have any water or soap available? An alcohol-based hand sanitiser will do the job perfectly. It should contain at least 60% alcohol. In some instances, such sanitisers can help minimise the number of germs.

However, sanitisers shouldn’t be used to remove harmful chemicals, as they don’t get rid of all types of germs.

If your hands are visibly greasy or dirty, a hand sanitiser won’t be as effective. So, how do you use a hand sanitiser?

  • Apply the labelled amount to one of your palms
  • Rub your hands together
  • Cover all your fingers and the surfaces of your hands with the sanitiser until your hands are dry

Tip #7: Make Hand-Washing Time Fun for Kids

Whether you are a parent, teacher or caregiver, getting kids to wash their hands can be a daunting task. To ensure they do it correctly, the following tips can help:

  • Come up with a poem or song that outlines the steps of good hand washing. Recite it together with the child often and especially when it is time to wash hands.
  • Have your child sing their favourite song while washing their hands. Let them try it in their own voice.
  • Get fun soaps, including liquid and foam soap that changes colour. Brightly coloured bottles and soaps with child-friendly scents will also work well.
  • Ensure the sink is installed within the child’s reach.
  • Do finger spelling or play a thumb game while washing hands.

Tip #8: Use Cold or Warm Water

A study done by Donald Schaffner, a professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick showed that water temperature has nothing to do with effectively cleaning your hands.

Using cold water is also great for your business, as it helps save on energy costs.

A new study suggests that when it comes to getting rid of harmful bacteria from your hands, the water temperature doesn’t matter.

Tip #9: Skip the Anti-Bacterial Soap

Those antibacterial soaps with triclosan are no more effective than your regular soap in killing germs. In fact, antibacterial soap might lead to the development of bacteria resistant to their antimicrobial agents, making it more difficult to get rid of these germs in the future.

In 2013, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) put a rule into place to stop the over-the-counter sale of antiseptic wash products that contain a number of antibacterial ingredients such as triclocarban and triclosan. These include bar soaps, body washes, and foam, liquid and gel hand soaps.

There isn’t evidence that antibacterial soap offers any health benefits. Its widespread use could end up doing more harm than good.

Tip #10: Practise Hands-Off Habits

Feminine Hygiene Bins
Alsco’s Feminine Hygiene Service

How do you keep your hands clean? Practise hands-off habits where possible, including when using waste disposal bins and drying your hands.

Disposal bins harbour germs and other infectious microorganisms, and you should avoid touching them.

Employers ought to get touchless hand towel dispensers and disposal bins. These units will help reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

If you are in New Zealand, Alsco can supply you with these hands-off units, including dispensers and sanitary bins.

Takeaway

Handwashing is an effective way to avoid spreading bacteria and germs. You will also reduce the risk of gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses. Always wash your hands with soap and running water — and remember that regular soap will work just fine.

Do you need hand sanitisers or soap dispensers in your workplace? Alsco offers fully-managed hand care supplies and systems for cost-effective and convenient hygiene solutions.

Call us today for an obligation-free quote.


Image: Unsplash by Curology



Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.