This week, December 7th through December 13th is National Hand Washing Awareness week. Didn't know there was such a thing? Well, neither did I until recently. It is amazing to me that we have to have a week dedicated to teaching people to wash their grimy little paws, but if that is what it takes, then I am all for it.
There is an art to washing your hands. Some people think a little water trickled over their nubs will do the trick, but that just isn't so. Others think that applying strong anti-bacterial soap to their hands is essential to eliminating germs and this isn't true either. Multiple studies have found there is no difference between the amount of bacteria cleaned off hands from anti-bacterial soaps versus plain soaps. Yet, over 70% of all hand soaps are marketed as anti-bacterial. Avoid these because there is concern over-usage of anti-bacterial chemicals will build up a resistance to these types of products. Also, many people get extremely dry skin from anti-bacterial hand soap.
Here are the steps for washing hands correctly:
1. Have the following supplies available when you wash your hands: mild hand soap, paper towel, nail brush and water source. (Okay, this last one should be a no-brainer for us, but since some people don't wash their hands, I wanted to be a little more specific.)
2. Turn water on to a comfortable warm temperature.
3. Apply soap and rigorously rub hands under the water. It isn't the amount of soap you use that cleans your hands, but rather is the rigorous rubbing that will wash away the bacteria. Don't forget to do this step, it really works.
(Pay attention to between fingers, tops of hands, bottom of hands and WRISTS. Yep, wrists! You know that transitional part between your arm and your hand? They get dirty, too, and are a major source of germs for most people because few take time to actually wash them.)
4. Turn off water. (See, I am eco-friendly!) Take nail brush and focus on scrubbing your fingernails. Focus on the nail bed and underneath your nails. A lot of nastiness is left under fingernails and few consider cleaning them out. Don't believe me? Well, how many diapers have YOU changed today? How were those chips this afternoon? Ewwww....
5. Turn water back on to rinse and rigorously rub hands together again. Don't forget to rinse off those soapy wrists!
6. Grab paper towel and dry hands. Use paper towel to turn off water, too.
7. In a public restroom? Take another paper towel to open that germy door.
Just one word of caution to you anti-bacterial gel users: If you decide to carry anti-bacterial gel with you to use between diaper changes or after you shake someone's hand (yeah, I have seen this) remember to keep the product AWAY from your little ones. This gel contains enough alcohol in it to cause sickness if your child consumes it.
Easy, huh? Then why don't more people wash their hands?? What is the problem?