It seems although most people think they know how to wash their hands, they really don't. See if you're one of these people and read on for a crash course in hand-washing.
When Should You Wash Your Hands?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, you should wash your hands ...
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after taking care of someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After handling anything to do with urine or fecal matter (such as changing diapers, cleaning up after a pet, etc.)
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal or animal feed
- After touching waste or garbage
This list may seem like common sense, but we all know we don't always wash our hands when these events occur.
How Do You Properly Wash Your Hands?
It still astounds me how many people do this wrong. You know what I'm talking about. You're in a public restroom and you see someone "wash" their hands by simply holding their fingers under the running faucet for a few seconds. Well, that's really not going to get the job done.
You should wet your hands and work up a good, foamy lather with some soap. Make sure you gently scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and underneath your nails as well. This should all take at least 30 seconds if you're doing it right. Trust me, when you do it right and rinse all the bubbles off, you even feel cleaner. This ensures you are rinsing way any microbes and bacteria that are lingering in the many crevices of your hands.
Also, remember to conserve water and turn off the faucet while you're lathering up!
To finish up, just make sure you dry your hands on a clean paper towel or cloth. If one isn't available, air drying is just fine.
Do You Have to Use Antibacterial Soap?
This may surprise you, but no, you don't. In fact, in many cases antibacterial soap may do more harm than good by creating super germs that are so immune to an antibacterial environment they become much stronger, thus more harmful to people.
The point of washing your hands is to rinse away germs, and the truth is, using antibacterial soap won't help get your hands any cleaner if you're already washing correctly. Moreover, many companies add all sorts of chemicals and additives in their antibacterial soap that can mess with your body when absorbed through the skin. These chemicals are also bad for the environment by not breaking down after being rinsed down the drain. This means it lingers in the environment to be consumed and absorbed by plants and animals, working its way up the food chain and being compounded into something more potent. Eventually, it could end up back in your body as something much worse.
Hence, to wash your hands, simple soap and water is really all you need to get the job done. Just remember to do it right.