The Importance of Hand Washing

Published On: April 30, 20200 Comments on The Importance of Hand WashingLast Updated: February 11, 20245.2 min read

Something as simple as using soap and warm water can help save lives, including yours. The cleaning professionals at Clean Corp understand that properly washing your hands is usually more than enough to help prevent the spread of many diseases. Keep on reading to learn more about the importance of hand washing, as well as a few other essential matters related to it.

The Importance of Hand Washing

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, up to 80% of common infections are spread by your hands. It doesn’t really come as a surprise since you use your hands for carrying out hundreds of everyday tasks, many of which involve touching objects and surfaces that could be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

Some of the diseases and infections that can easily spread by means of your hands are:

  • The coronavirus disease or COVID-19

  • The common cold

  • The flu

  • Strep throat

  • Hepatitis A

  • Viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu

  • Pink eye

  • Mononucleosis

  • Salmonellosis

  • Hand-foot-and-mouth disease or HFMD

These are just some of the health-related concerns that can spread from person to person via contaminated hands. It’s not just you who could end up with any of the above-mentioned diseases and infections if you fail to keep your hands clean, but also your family and friends. It’s a terrible idea to spread bacteria and viruses to children, the elderly and immunocompromised people. That’s because their immune systems are not strong enough to protect them!

Your Hands are Home to Microbes

Since we were kids, we have been told to wash our hands before eating and most especially after using the bathroom. Unfortunately, not all of us as adults are washing our hands whenever necessary. We keep on touching our faces, shaking hands, preparing food, and eating with contaminated hands. Many of us head to the sink only if our hands look dirty. Sadly, the real enemies, which are disease-causing germs, cannot be seen by the naked eye. Your hands may look squeaky clean but may still have thousands of harmful microbes on them. Health authorities say that around 1,500 bacteria are living on every square centimeter of skin on your hand. The areas between your fingers and under your fingernails tend to carry even more of those.

Sometimes you may even have up to 5 million germs on each of your hands especially if you are a health worker as you are exposed to a lot of contaminated patients, objects and surfaces! But whether you are in the medical field or not, the sheer importance of regularly washing your hands cannot be stressed enough. Bacteria and viruses are all around you. This is true whether there is a pandemic or not. You should make it a habit to clean your hands with soap and running water during these times:

  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose

  • After using the bathroom

  • After changing diapers or cleaning a child who used the bathroom

  • Before and after taking care of a sick person

  • Before and after treating a wound

  • Before, during and after preparing food

  • Before eating

  • After touching a pet, pet food and pet waste

  • After touching garbage

  • After touching any object or surface in public

Because we use our hands for carrying out a lot of tasks and our hands come into contact with various objects or surfaces, it’s important that we wash them as necessary. This is especially true before we eat or touch our face — bacteria and viruses can easily get inside the body via the mouth, nose and eyes!

The Importance of Hand Washing - washing hands

The Proper Way to Wash Your Hands

Just because you washed your hands doesn’t necessarily mean that you and your loved ones are already out of the woods. Health authorities say that what you need to do to prevent the spread of diseases and infections is to wash your hands properly. Yes, hand washing has to be done correctly for it to work to your advantage and everybody else’s, too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, you should follow these simple steps each time that you wash your hands:

  1. Remove any hand or wrist jewelry that you may be wearing.

  2. Wet your hands with running water. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold. What matters is that it’s clean.

  3. Lather your hands by rubbing them together soap. Make sure that you lather everything, from the back of your hands, under your nails to between your fingers.

  4. Keep on scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds. If you want, you may sing the “Happy Birthday Song” in your mind. Sing it from beginning to end twice.

  5. Rinse your hands under running water very well until they no longer feel soapy.

  6. Air dry your hands, or use a kitchen paper or a clean towel.

This is the right way to wash your hands. If you want to clean your hands and keep yourself or someone you care about from getting sick, make sure that you follow the steps above.

Before You Go

You may be wondering if it’s a good idea to use antibacterial soap for hand washing. Well, according to health authorities themselves, you should go for plain soap. That’s because antibacterial soap can also kill good bacteria on your hands — yes, there are good bacteria on your hands and elsewhere on your body, and they are there to help keep the population of disease-causing bacteria in check. And by the way, you have good bacteria in your gut, too!

So what if you don’t have access to running water and soap? You got a couple of options. First, you may count on rubbing alcohol. But don’t just use any rubbing alcohol — the best one for the job is 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Second, you may apply hand sanitizer. Just make sure that the hand sanitizer that you are about to use is alcohol-based, and that it contains 70% alcohol. Unfortunately, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer may not be as effective as hand washing. For instance, they are not very good at removing visible dirt and grime. They may also fail to eliminate pesticides, heavy metals, and other harmful chemicals and substances. Clearly, washing your hands with soap and water is better.

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