It’s cold and flu season.  Are you a good hand-washer?  When do you wash your hands?  Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to decrease your chances of getting a cold or the flu.

Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands that can make you and others ill. Without even realizing it, most of us touch our face, eyes, mouth, and nose often throughout the day. This is where germs can make their entrance into our bodies and make us ill.

Soap is Soap

Over the years, there’s been much debate and clever marketing around which soap is the best soap to squash germs. Both bar and liquid soap work well. Studies indicate there’s no added benefit to using antibacterial soap with the exception of those who work in healthcare settings.

Germs Spread Quickly Onto Surfaces

Unwashed hands can transfer germs to other objects, like handrails, tabletops, desks, phones, and other objects before being transferred to another person’s hands. Desktops in particular are quite germ-covered. Most were found to have 400 times more germs than even a toilet seat! That’s why sanitizing frequently in your office and home is essential along with regular handwashing to minimize the spread of germs.

Handwashing Helps Against Antibiotic Resistance

When you wash your hands well and often, it prevents sickness that might otherwise be treated with antibiotics. When antibiotics are used too frequently, it causes a resistance that doesn’t allow the antibiotics to work as effectively the next time around they’re needed. Around 20% of respiratory infections (like colds) and 30% of diarrhea-related illnesses can be prevented by effective handwashing, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Scrub for a Minimum of 20 Seconds

Handwashing isn’t effective if you don’t do it for a long enough time. At a minimum, you want to scrub your hands with clean, warm, and soapy water for at least 20 seconds. You can hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice to ensure you do it long enough. Or, switch it up with some other 30-second choruses from Queen or Beyoncé if you’re tired of the traditional birthday jam.

Can’t get to a sink? Use an alcohol-based sanitizer in the meantime. To prevent the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Check out these websites for more information on hand washing: