Did you know a recent study by the CDC found that only 35% of men and 65% of women washed their hands after using a public restroom? Per the CDC, there are up to a trillion bacteria in a single gram of stool. Handwashing with soap and clean water is the easiest and most effective way to stay healthy, yet, apparently, many people don’t think they need to wash their hands after using the toilet.
Good handwashing technique is simple enough for children to learn, and is taught because of its effectiveness in preventing infection. As we go through the day, we touch unclean surfaces. We transfer those germs, bacteria, and, possibly, diseases from our hands to other surfaces, including our own mouth and nose. We can do our part to help keep everyone healthy in our homes, offices, and worksites by simply improving our handwashing practices.
When should you wash your hands? Handwashing is a must BEFORE preparing food, eating, treating a wound, or inserting contact lenses. Handwashing is absolutely needed AFTER changing a dirty diaper, using the bathroom (for whatever reason), touching garbage or an animal, or sneezing/coughing into your hand or tissue. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an effective substitute if your hands are not visibly dirty, and you can’t access soap and water.
How should we wash our hands? According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 5 simple steps, but you can’t rush them:
- WET – using clean water (hot water does not actually kill more germs);
- LATHER – suds from under your fingernails to the bottom of your wrists with soap;
- SCRUB – vigorously for twenty full seconds;
- RINSE – using clean water; and
- DRY – using a clean paper towel if available.
Furthermore, if you touch the sink or doorknob directly after washing, you have touched two of the dirtiest areas in a bathroom! To keep your hands clean, you can use a paper towel to turn off the water and open the door.