We’re here to answer, once and for all, all of the questions you might’ve had about hand washing. Even though everyone washes their hands several times a day, some of these answers might surprise you! This thorough guide will help you wash your hands better than ever before.
Here are some of the most common questions we receive. If you want to know the answer to a question, simply click on it or scroll down:
- Why is handwashing so important?
- Do you really need to wash your hands with soap? Can you just wash your hands with water?
- What is the correct water temperature for hand washing?
- How much soap do you need to use when hand washing?
- What is the effective hand washing time?
- Can too much hand washing turn into OCD?
- When washing your hands, don’t you get rid of the “good germs” too?
- What’s better – hand washing or hand sanitizer?
- How should you dry your hands after washing hands?
- Are there different types of hand washing? What are the types of hand washing?
- Are there automatic hand washing machines?
- Should businesses monitor hand hygiene?
- When is double hand washing required?
- When should I wash my hands?
- What should I pay attention to when washing my hands?
According to the CDC, “Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.”
Germs and viruses find their ways into our bodies through our hands when we touch our face, which holds sensitive entrees to the body such as the mouth, nose, and eyes. When eating foods prepared by unclean hands, germs pass on easily into the body too.
Germs and bacteria can be passed on to our hands by touching contaminated surfaces. Objects frequently touched in our environment can “collect” dangerous germs and bacteria after being handled by unsuspecting carriers. Common objects we all tend to touch without a second thought include elevator buttons, handrails, doorknobs, and more. The term “chain of infection” explains this process well.
When washing hands,the soap helps dissolve different virus’ structure, rendering them inactive. In addition, the soap’s slippery consistency paired with the water stream allows bacteria to be washed away instead of continuing to cling to the skin.
Any wash is better than no wash at all, but using soap and water to wash hands is the most effective combination. This is largely due to the fact that the soap itself helps rinse away dirt and germs from the skin and also helps deactivate viruses. There’s a human factor to it as well – when people use soap to lather the hands, they tend to scrub more thoroughly than when they are just using water to wash their hands, which in turn helps remove more germs.
It is recommended for food handlers to wash their hands at a warm temperature of at least 100˚F (38˚C). Warm water helps people wash their hands more often, especially during winter. We’re only human – if the water feels nice and it’s comfortable for us to use, we’ll use them to wash our hands a whole lot more readily.
The important thing to remember is that you need enough soap to comfortably froth and cover the entire hand. Studies have shown that the minimum amount is about 0.7 ml, or up to two pumps.
At least 20 seconds! You can sing the classic “happy birthday” song which takes about the same amount of time if you don’t want to count.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder has different expressions in different people, but one of the most commonly portrayed symptoms in popular culture today has to do with excessive hand washing.
In a recent 2019 study, parents were asked whether they educated their children to practice hand hygiene. A large percentage of parents admitted that they don’t stress hand washing enough because they’re afraid too much hand washing will create an obsessive-compulsive disorder in their children.
It’s true that one of the possible expressions of OCD has to do with fear of germs and/or excessive hand washing, but the excessive nature of these actions has to do with the obsession with germs and the compulsion that follows, to wash hands. OCD is closely linked to anxiety disorders. When a person who has OCD tries to deny the compulsion to wash hands, they’ll be faced with a great feeling of dread and anxiety. Someone without OCD will not be faced with the same feelings if they can’t wash their hands. This is part of the reason why simply washing hands does not lead to OCD. OCD leads to the compulsion to wash hands, and not the other way around.
The normal flora on your skin is deeply rooted inside the epidermis, and so it is hard to remove it by simply washing your hands. These resident micro-organisms don’t usually cause infections and are a natural part of your skin. Unless excessive hand washing is performed, they are not harmed.
Hand washing does, however, get rid of the “bad germs”, which can be referred to as transient micro-organisms. They’re not part of the skin’s natural flora but are brought on by contamination. Some of these germs you might even recognize, such as E.coli, Salmonella spp., Staph aureus, and more.
“Better” is a relative definition. Both can be used well to ensure a high hygiene standard. Admittedly, hand washing with soap and water can dispose of a wider range of bacteria and viruses than hand sanitizer. For example, the infamous norovirus can be dealt with through soap and water, but not through hand sanitizer.
Disposable paper towels are the most hygienic solution. Hand driers of different sorts, though widely used, are not as hygienic because they can actually blow some of the germs away from the skin and infect other surfaces or individuals standing too close.
It’s common to classify hand hygiene practices into three different types: social hand hygiene, antiseptic hand hygiene, and surgical hand hygiene.
Social hand hygiene refers to the “regular” way we wash our hands, with soap and warm water or hand sanitizer. Through these routine hand hygiene practices, we can wash off dirt and bacteria.
Antiseptic hand hygiene refers to disinfecting the hands with antiseptic reagent. It’s a common practice before entering areas of isolation in hospitals, for example. It’s practiced in areas which are thought of as carrying a high risk of infection, and also before and after performing invasive medical procedures.
Surgical hand hygiene is more complicated than the first two. In case the glove of the surgical team is punctured or torn during the operation, medical teams are required to clean their hands extremely thoroughly, reducing even the natural flora of the skin.
Here at Soapy, we believe in the future everyone will wash their hands with automatic hand washing stations. Machines can help us ensure a thorough wash cycle while preventing the waste of valuable resources such as water, soap, and electricity used to warm the water. That is why we created the CleanMachine. The automated hand wash station supplies the perfect amount of soap and warm water while scanning the hands and providing real-time evaluation of the hand hygiene process. If you want to learn more about our smart hygiene station, you can contact us here.
As part of human nature when employees have to answer to their managers about their hand hygiene practices – their hand hygiene compliance rates will shoot up like never before. This is especially important when handling sensitive products or populations, like restaurants, food production factories, private clinics, nursing homes, and more . Preventing infections is important enough to warrant hand hygiene monitoring. It keeps both the staff and the end customer safer than ever before.
According to the FDA food code, double hand washing is necessary before workers in the food industry return to their duties after a bathroom break. This is a common measure of food safety, put in place in order to prevent the passage of dangerous pathogens to the food. Why is that? Because bathrooms have a high number of pathogens inside them by nature, coupled with high touch surfaces like faucet handles and doorknobs. Even if you washed well the first time, someone else might not have. When your freshly washed hands touch the contaminated surfaces, your hands get contaminated themselves, and you could be carrying the pathogens back into the kitchen and into the food.
Hand hygiene should be practiced routinely, according to your schedule, preferably after handling high-touch surfaces or objects. Here are some key times to remember to wash your hands at, regardless of your schedule: Before and after preparing food and before consuming it, before and after caring for someone who is sick, after using the toilet, after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose, after handling garbage, and after handling animals.
The surface of your skin needs to be scrubbed with frothed soap in order for germs to wash away effectively. Here are the correct techniques to wash your hands.
Do you have a question about hand hygiene that we didn’t answer in this article? Reach out to us.