How To Properly Wash Your Hands

By Nathaniel Whelan on March 22 2020 in How to

Many of us do not wash our hands for long enough.
Many of us do not wash our hands for long enough.
  • Hand washing is one of the most common tips from health specialists on how to combat COVID-19.
  • Hot water does not kill more germs than cooler temperatures.
  • The entire hand washing process should take between forty seconds to a minute.

Washing your hands.

Sounds simple right? Everyone should know how to do it. It is something we are taught in kindergarten, and yet it is a skill we seem to forget when we get older. Either we do not do it long enough, or often enough. And unfortunately, there are some who do not use soap at all. 

With the ever-increasing threat of COVID-19, it is more important now than ever to maintain basic hand hygiene. In fact, hand washing is one of the most common tips from health specialists on how to combat the virus. With that said, now is the perfect time to brush up on those kindergarten skills. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to properly wash your hands and reduce the continued spread of COVID-19.    

Step 1:

Wet your hands with clean water. Ensure it is at a comfortable temperature. Do not blast the hot water thinking it will kill more germs. While it is easy to convince yourself otherwise, a hotter temperature does not increase bacteria removal. In fact, warmer water may only cause skin irritation if you are doing it as often as recommended.

Step 2:

Apply soap and lather vigorously. Wring your hands and rub your palms together. Interlace your fingers. Do not forget the back of your hands and up to your wrists. And get that nasty grime under your fingernails. Leave no part of the hand untouched. This is perhaps the most important step. Soap helps lift germs off the skin. Also note, many sources recommend to turn off the tap water during this step to conserve water.   

Step 3:

Scrub hands underwater for twenty seconds. Do not be gentle. Scrubbing creates friction which helps rinse away the germs. This is where patience comes in handy. It is important to scrub for the required time. Try singing the alphabet song—but do not rush through l-m-n-o-p! Other sources suggest singing “happy birthday” twice. Rinse until all the lathered soap is gone.  

Step 4:

Turn off the tap. Do not touch the faucet if possible. No point washing your hands if you are immediately going to contract more germs. Instead, use a paper towel if available to turn off the water.

Step 5:

Dry hands. Use a clean towel or air dryer. Inspect hands and ensure they are thoroughly clean.

And that is all there is to it! The entire process should take between forty seconds to a minute.

Wash Hands Often

Be aware that washing your hands is not only necessary after leaving the bathroom. It is important to practice proper hand hygiene after many day-to-day activities such as eating, doing chores, or blowing your nose. If there is no sink available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but water and soap are proven to be more effective.

While it is a start, hand washing is not a cure for COVID-19. We must be vigilant and put into practice other safety tips such as social distancing. But if you are in a position where you cannot stay home—first responders and grocers for example—washing your hands can go a long way in protecting yourself and those around you. It is one of the strongest weapons in our arsenal.

Do your part. Wash your hands.

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