This piece wasn’t on my content calendar and I didn’t plan on returning from a blogging hiatus with it, but here we are.
I have long accused people of not washing their hands and long suspected that many of those that do have no concept of how to actually achieve a decent level of cleanliness. Just ask my husband — I usually inquire at least twice a day whether he has washed his hands and I have been known to send him back to the sink when I don’t hear the water running long enough. He loves it (I’m kidding; he obviously hates it).
Now, with the coronavirus sweeping across the globe, there is messaging everywhere reminding people to do the unthinkable…wash their hands throughout the day for 20 to 30 seconds at a time, and it’s being treated like it’s a novel idea. I can’t believe we needed an epidemic to convince people to clean their damn hands, but if anything good comes out of it I hope it’s that people continue to wash their hands when this is all over.
When to Wash Your Hands
If you’re honestly wondering when you need to wash your hands, here are a few key times.
- Before eating and/or preparing food
- After touching raw meat
- After using the bathroom
- After changing a diaper
- After touching animals
- After coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose
- After visiting a public place (the subway, a store, a museum, wherever)
- Anytime they are visibly dirty
- Not only when there is a disease epidemic
Personally I like to wash my hands anytime I come back into my house, and to be honest, I also hit the sink at the first opportune moment after shaking someone’s hand. Sorry, but you just never know, and at times when there’s illness going around you should do the same. Use your judgment. If you think you should probably wash your hands then you definitely should.
It’s a shame this needs to be said, but men need to wash their hands after peeing. Dollar Shave Club has a great article about why, so give it a read and I’ll skip going into detail about proximity to poop and contaminated door handles.
While we’re at it, please teach your kids to wash their hands, too. It will save us all a lot of household illness.
How to Wash Your Hands Properly
The biggest problem seems to be reluctance to spend the proper amount of time sudsing up. I promise, you really do have the extra 20 seconds to spare. You’re going to waste a lot more than that if you get sick.
To put it simply, you wet your hands, lather up, scrub for 20 seconds, and rinse well. Bonus points if you avoid touching the sink or door handle on your way out of a public restroom.
The CDC has a great little chart if you need a visual.
What to Wash Your Hands With
Pretty much any soap will do when used properly. If you’re eco-conscious there are plenty of eco-friendly options. If you’re worried about killing the good bacteria off with antibacterial soap, there’s plenty that aren’t. Scented, unscented, liquid, bar — go ahead and use what you like as long as it’s soap.
Just remember, hand sanitizer is not a substitute for soap.
Hand sanitizer is for when you can’t get to soap and water or if you want to be extra cautious and sanitize after washing your hands. Everything that was on your hands is still there; you haven’t washed anything off, you’ve just killed certain germs. Fun fact: norovirus, C. diff, and some parasites are resistant to hand sanitizer, all of which mean you get treated to some diarrhea, among other often more serious things.
Let’s Wrap it Up and Hit the Sink
I know some of you do wash your hands. I appreciate you, and the rest of the world does too even if some people don’t realize it. Unfortunately you probably account for 90% of the people that will read this, so there’s that.
Whether or not you already wash properly, and whether you liked the article or are wondering why a marketing consultant is telling you to wash your hands (for the record it’s because when you don’t, my kids get sick and I don’t get a moment of peace), feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!