The importance of washing your hands
Just because there isn’t visible filth or grime on your mitts, doesn’t mean your hands are clean. Our hands are a vessel for bacteria, both helpful and harmful, and as such are often responsible for spreading and carrying germs and disease.
Put more simply: Dirty hands get people sick.
Hands are the leader in transporting germs like salmonella, E. coli and norovirus. These germs can all cause diarrhea and create respiratory infections in some scenarios. These types of germs commonly get to your hands when using toilet paper or changing a diaper, but also in less obvious ways, such as handling raw meat that may have invisible traces of animal feces.
Germs can also be passed on indirectly if you’ve touched the same surface as someone who has coughed or sneezed on their hands without properly cleaning them. These surfaces are essentially contaminated and can spread germs and disease from person to person.
So now that you know WHY you should have clean hands, it’s time to ask HOW you should go about cleaning them? While cleaning your hands might sound arbitrary and obvious, it’s something most people tend to cut corners on when performing.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should be doing the following:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Why these steps? For the science behind these steps, the CDC has also provided an in-depth informational guide at cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html