Why Should You Care About Good Hand washing?
Good hand washing, what’s good hand washing? It seems to be elusive these days. Many say they do it, but studies show really don’t. People may claim many reasons for this like they are too busy or they forget or maybe they don’t like to because it dries their hands out. Many may just have a complacent attitude toward hand washing and may not realize the importance of it. We spread germs by the touch of our hands, about 80% of them. Basically, the ways germs get spread one to another are:
- Fecal-oral route, meaning germs from our toileting (or someone else) getting on our hands, then to our mouths when he touch our mouth or maybe eat that tasty burger for lunch with unwashed hands. Yum!
- Direct contact by our hands or the hands of others when those hands have touched body fluid such as saliva, secretions, urine or maybe other body fluids.
- Indirect contact of respiratory secretions such as that from the common cold or influenza that have been put onto a surface that you later touch, then introduce into your body by maybe rubbing your nose.
A recent University of Arizona study on shopping carts at a grocery store showed that 72 % of the shopping cart handles had traces of fecal material. That is just gross and potentially dangerous. So germs are everywhere, how do we protect ourselves? Good hand washing is our first line of defense. Not just throwing your hands under the water and calling it done, but vigorously washing with soap and water. And being mindful of places that tend to trap germs such as under bracelets, watches or rings. We are talking millions of microscopic organisms. If you are feeling brave click here for hand washing video with me singing to happy birthday. Yikes, so sorry.
- Get a blob of soap on your hand.
- Rub vigorously away from the water for about 15 seconds, interlocking fingers as you are rubbing, rubbing the backs of your hands, getting under fingernails and rubbing around your thumb, which is often missed. This action pulls dirt and germs away into the lather.
- Then rinse your hands with hands pointing down so germs go down the sink and not back on your hands or arms.
- Grab a paper towel, drying your hands, then using the dry part of the paper towel to turn off the water.
- If in a public restroom, use the paper towel to open the door if possible, then toss the paper towel away as you prop the door open with your foot.
A word on the alcohol gels out there. Many of these are more effective than soap and water for most germs, but there are some germs that soap and water work better on. If you are out and about without access to water, it definitely would be advantageous to use a good alcohol gel such as after shopping or in a public place. Then you can wash your hands with soap and water when you get home.
In summary, here are some suggestions to help protect you anytime of the year:
- Shop at a market that has the sanitary wipes that you can use before using the cart, especially if you put your small child in the seat.
- Have alcohol gel available in your purse or car and use it after being in a public place.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth when out and about.
- If you do have a cold or flu, cough in your sleeve, not in your hands if possible and away from others. If you do blow your nose or cough in your hands, wash them afterwards or maybe use some alcohol gel if can’t get to a sink.
- Wash your hands vigorously after using the bathroom.
These are common sense kind of things, but can go a long way in keeping you well. If you do get bitten by “the bug,” have some courtesy in trying to protect others while you are ill and be sure to take good care of yourself. Check out some other ways to build up your immune system to help defend against illnesses.