Hand hygiene – how clean are your hands really?

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Did you know you should wash your hands at least six times a day?
Did you know you should wash your hands at least six times a day?

How often do you wash your hands during the course of a day? Well, according to the Global Hygiene Council, you should wash your hands at least six times a day on average. It may sound like a lot but think about how often you go to the bathroom, sneeze, touch door handles and lift buttons…

No soap? No problem!

You are probably thinking that to clean your hands properly and effectively you need soap. However, the Global Handwashing Partnership says not everyone has access to soap, and washing your hands with just water can reduce your risk for diarrhoea. They explain that where soap is available, particularly in low-income households, it is not always used for handwashing because it's perceived as a commodity.

They say, "Instead, soap may be used for laundry, bathing, and washing dishes. Where soap is not available or difficult to obtain for handwashing, soapy water is an effective low-cost alternative. Otherwise, handwashing with other cleansing agents like ash can help remove bacteria from hands."

The correct way to wash your hands

If you do have access to running water and soap, you need to ensure you are washing your hands correctly to avoid picking up any illnesses. Here's how: 

  • Wet your hands (just make sure you close the tap after your hands are wet). 
  • Cover your hands with soap. 
  • Scrub thoroughly for at least 20 seconds (sing "Happy Birthday" twice) – make sure you scrub your palms, the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails. 
  • Rinse your hands and then dry them. 

If you are using hand sanitiser, make sure you rub your hands (covering every surface as you would when using soap) for at least 30 seconds before it dries. 

Here are six stories you should read on Global Handwashing Day:

1. Hand washing works whether the water's hot or cold

The finding that you don't need hot water to effectively clean your hands runs counter to current FDA guidelines.

sink in a bathroom

2. SEE: Clean hands can prevent flu

How often do you wash your hands? Do you wash them properly? Research shows that regular hand washing can help protect you from colds and flu.

woman blowing nose at her desk

3. Will hand sanitiser clean my hands properly?

Hand sanitiser is a no-brainer when it comes to waterless hand hygiene. But how effective is it really?

mother giving son hand sanitiser

4. How often do you wash your hands?

If your answer is, “Fewer than seven times a day”, you're failing in basic hygiene. And it's not just how often you do it, but how well.

family washing hands at kitchen sink

5. Here's how dirty your keyboard and desk really are

Your office space is swarming with all kinds of microorganisms. Poor workspace health could be the reason you're getting sick.

person typing on keyboard

6. Here's why using the ATM is really gross

You might want to wash your hands the next time you withdraw cash from an ATM machine, a new study suggests.

woman using atm to draw money

Image credit: iStock 

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