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How Long Are You Supposed to Wash Your Hands For?

Dr. Kline & Green Team
10 March 2020
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With all the news about coronavirus in the press, hand hygiene has come to the forefront of our attention. We are all starting to ask questions such as what is the best way to stay safe. Many of the organizations responsible for our health, such as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommend that the gold standard for protecting yourself as best you can from infectious diseases is to wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds. Washing your hands is something most of us do on a very regular basis, but this begs the question are we doing it correctly and as well as we should be? This guide to washing your hands provides an overview of the recommended method for proper handwashing.

Clean hands are important for reducing the likelihood of transmitting germs and diseases. When you touch something that is infected, the way it tends to infect an individual is by further transfer from your hands, to your body via your mouth and eyes. Hand washing is not 100% effective, since you can also pick up germs and infections from other people coughing and sneezing in your vicinity, but even so, hand washing is still an important aspect of good hygiene.

How Often Should You Wash Your Hands?

The amount of times you wash your hands is really dependent on a number of factors. How often you have access to a bathroom and how often you end up touching surfaces and objects in public that have exposure to a lot of different people. General guidelines suggest that you should wash your hands as ‘often as necessary’ to avoid the spread of germs. Some examples of when you should wash your hands:

  1. When you visit a restroom.
  2. Before you have a meal or eat something.
  3. Prior and after cooking and prepping raw meat and vegetables.
  4. When dealing with young children.
  5. After contact with pets, animals and animal waste.
  6. Before and after treating wounds.
  7. When you are in contact with waste, rubbish and litter.

This list is not exhaustive but should give you an indication as to the types of activities that might require you to wash your hands.

How Long Should You Wash Your Hands For?

As noted earlier, most professionals recommend that you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Some people suggest that the best way to do this is to sing a song or tune to yourself as you wash your hands. One suggestion is to sing the tune to happy birthday since the length of this song is enough time to get your hands clean if you are using the right technique. Make sure to wash the back and front of both hands, including between fingers and under the nails.

How To Wash Your Hands

Some basic guidelines on how to wash your hands properly include:

  1. You can use cold or hot water to wash your hands. You do not have to use warm water if you don’t have access to it. Cold is fine too.
  2. Use soap and use enough to cover your hands completely. Antibacterial soap is a bonus if you have access to it but regular soap is fine too.
  3. Create a lather and cover both the fronts and backs of your hands, fingers, thumbs and in between the fingers and thumbs.
  4. Scrub and clean your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  5. Rinse your hands under running water. When rinsing your hands ensure you remove all soap remnants.
  6. Dry wet hands with a disposable paper hand towel, air dry them, or use a hand dryer. Since bacteria spreads more easier on wet hands the goal is to get your hands dry as quickly as possible.

What if You Don’t Have Access to A Washroom?

You may not always have access to washroom facilities, but the good news is that there is an alternative method to keeping your hands clean that you can adopt, that is using hand sanitizers. A hand sanitizer is not designed as a replacement for washing your hands, but it is something that can be used alongside hand washing to give you even more protection against germs and viruses that you might pick up on your hands.

Doctors Kline + Green Travel Size Hand Sanitizer Available Online

If you’re out in public or travelling by train, bus or plane then you should consider taking a portable, travel hand sanitizer with you. Our hand sanitizer has 62% ethyl alcohol as an ingredient. If you’re looking to buy a travel size hand sanitizer then you should aim for one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol in it to be effective. Our hand sanitizer is perfect for when you do not have access to washroom facilities.

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