It is а widely known fact that good hand hygiene is considered as one of the most important factors in minimising the spread of germs and disease. However, many people overlook this task and forget to wash their hands as frequently as they should or do not use adequate techniques and efforts to dry and wash their hands.

According to a study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, samples taken from 300 participants, found that the level of bacteria found on hands is equivalent to the contamination of a dirty toilet bowl. However, another research illustrates that nearly 50% of men and 25% women do not wash their hands after they have been to the toilet!

Ongoing media coverage on problems such as MRSA in hospitals has highlighted the need to get the basics right and to educate people of the need to maintain good hand hygiene. The effects of bad hygiene tend to be more severe in hospitals, but this problem is not restricted to hospital wards; it is a collective problem that offices, schools, restaurants and factories must act upon by providing the adequate facilities to encourage good hand hygiene and help prevent the spreading of germs. As a society we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of good hand-hygiene in the fight to reduce the spread of germs.

So how regularly should we wash our hands?

In order to help prevent the spread of germs, regular hand washing must take place throughout the day especially in the following situations:

  • Looking after the sick
  • Baby sitting or looking after the elderly
  • Cooking and Eating
  • Starting work; especially if you work in the health sector or will be handling food
  • Putting in/removing contact lenses
  • Using the toilet
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Touching raw foods (meat, fish, poultry and eggs)
  • Looking after the sick
  • Changing the bin bags/ throwing the rubish
  • Changing nappies
  • Playing with animals
  • Gardening

Best hand washing practices

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water
  • Apply soap  and rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well
  • Make sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands

Best hand drying practices

Drying your hands thoroughly is  another important step in reducing the risk of germs spreading. There are several common ways in which you can dry your hands – towel, paper and warm air but when it comes to which is the most hygienic one,  the statistics below speak for themselves:

  • Electric devices increase bacteria levels by 162%
  • Paper drying decrease bacteria levels by 29%
  • Hot air driers draw in the air from the immediate environment and re-circulate it in a more concentrated form. The bacteria present in the air are then blown directly onto the hands, face, clothes and hair.

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