How long should you wash your hands for?

Hand Hygiene

Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to remove harmful bacteria from your hands, but unless you are washing your hands for long enough the process is not effective. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) released the results of a study they conducted into the handwashing habits of adults in the UK. The results revealed that the majority of people in the UK do not know how long they need to wash their hands for. 

How Long For Hand Washing?

The RPS states that you need to wash your hands for 20 seconds to effectively kill germs. They recommend singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself twice when washing your hands to make sure you are doing it for long enough. The handwashing process must take this long to remove viruses and bacteria that can cause a number of illnesses such as flu and colds.

The study run by the RPS surveyed over 2,000 people and found that 84% of those surveyed were not washing their hands for long enough to effectively remove germs. This statistic clearly shows that the majority of people in the UK do not understand how long they need to wash their hands for.

Another striking statistic was that 21% of people do not always wash their hands after going to the toilet and 32% fail to wash their hands before touching food.

Ash Soni, president of the RPS said, ‘We don’t wash our hands often enough or for long enough to get rid of the bacteria that can cause illnesses’.

Mr Soni revealed that the issue then is not just isolated to the time spent washing hands, but also to how regularly we wash them. 65% of people do not always wash their hands before eating and 50% do not wash them after touching their pets. This shows a lack of understanding with how germs get onto our hands and why we should be washing them regularly.

Germs are everywhere. You may be surprised to know that everyday items, such as your mobile phone are more unhygienic than a toilet seat in terms of bacteria per surface! Dr Charles Gerba, an American microbiologist, found that on average there are 3,925 bacteria per surface on a computer keyboard. This clearly shows the importance of regularly hand washing to prevent the spread of harmful germs.

How To Wash Your Hands Effectively

The first step to washing your hands is to wet them with warm or cold water. It is important to apply soap liberally to cover all of your hands. You need to rub your hands palm to palm, wash between your fingers and cover the back of your hands. Continue the process for 20 seconds.

It is then important to dry your hands effectively, either using a hand dryer or paper towels. Wet or damp hands are one of the worst ways of spreading germs, so make sure your hands are dry before leaving the washroom!

Wash Those Germs Away!   

Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. This is why it is so important to make sure you are washing your hands regularly and washing them for long enough to have a positive effect in removing bacteria. Failure to wash your hands for long enough will mean that the hand washing process is ineffective. So, next time you wash your hands remember to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself twice. Whether you sing it out loud or in your head is up to you!

References

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/