CDC: Wetter is better for hand washing

WashingHands1_blogIt’s that time of year again — cold and flu season is upon us and the battle of keeping yourself and others healthy has intensified.

While many people know that washing their hands or using hand sanitizer is an important aspect to preventing infection and avoiding the spread of foodborne bacteria and other germs, do you know what one is actually the most effective method for keeping you and others healthy?

An article for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention aims to set the record straight: “Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.”

According to the article, although alcohol-based hand sanitizers of 60% alcohol or more can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people typically do not use enough sanitizer, or may wipe it off before it has dried thus reducing its effectiveness. “Furthermore, soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing or inactivating certain kinds of germs, like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile.”

All this being said, there is still a proper technique when it comes to hand washing that the Mayo Clinic suggests you follow. The most important aspects are listed below.

  • Lathering soap in your hand and vigorously rub them  together for at least 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing “happy birthday” twice.
  • Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse hands well with warm water, and then dry your hands. When possible, turn off the faucet with a towel or an elbow, as you do not want to retransfer bacteria.

The article also states that the most important times to wash your hands are before and after the following tasks:

  • Preparing food(especially raw meat or poultry)
  • Eating a meal
  • Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated— such as cleaning clothes or soiled shoes
  • Shaking hands with others

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