It probably got drilled into your head from a very early age that it’s important to “wash your hands” pretty much all the time. As an adult, you’ve likely carried these hygiene habits with you, washing your hands meticulously all the time. But, have you ever stopped and wondered why hand hygiene is so important? How often should you be washing your hands? Is there a “proper” way to wash them? Let’s take a closer look.
What Makes it Important?
Hand hygiene simply means washing your hands. So, why is it so important? Well, did you know that the majority of germs that exist are actually spread by us? What that means is that by washing your hands, you will be helping to prevent the spread of germs and infections. It is a very simple defense yet it is incredibly effective.
Is It More Important When You Are Out in Public Places?
Another question people ask is whether or not it’s even more important to wash your hands when you are in public places. Think about it this way, germs can reside on all kinds of surfaces. Let’s say you are at a mall and you’re browsing through racks of clothes, looking at toys, opening doors, holding handrails as you walk up/down stairs, etc. You are exposing yourself to all the germs that have been left there. The very best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands while out in public.
Every public space you go to should have proper washroom facilities. Even if it’s just a temporary handwash station, as long as there is soap and water, you will be able to wash your hands. It’s also a good idea to carry hand sanitizer with you as an added level of defense. Keep in mind that hand sanitizer does not take the place of hand washing though.
How Often Should You Wash Your Hands?
If you want to do all you can to ensure that you don’t spread germs and infections, or pick them up yourself, then obviously you want to be sure you’re washing your hands enough. So how often and when should you wash your hands?
Here’s a look at common scenarios that require handwashing.
- Before, during, and after you prepare any type of food
- Before you sit down to eat your food
- After using the toilet
- Before and after you treat a wound or a cut
- Before and after you look after someone who is ill
- After you change a diaper
- After touching an animal, pick up animal waste, or feed an animal
- After you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose
- After handling garbage
- After you have been out of the house doing errands
There is also a “proper” way to wash hands. You need to start by wetting your hands, then lather them with soap making sure to get the front, back, and in between your fingers. Be sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds, then rinse with warm water. Air dry or towel dry your hands.
Not Something to Take Chances With
Hand hygiene is not something you should take chances with. The better you are about washing your hands, the less chance you have of getting sick or passing along germs to another.