Hands. They’re one of the most important parts of your body when it comes to doing day-to-day activities. We need them to eat, to write, to take out the trash and to type on our precious electronic devices. Yet, with all the good that comes from our hands, it can also potentially bring a whole host of bad. A recent study done by Initial Hygiene has shown that 80% of diseases can be spread by touch. Which means, while we go about our daily bustle we unknowingly spread germs and bacteria with our hands to people we touch and surfaces we come in contact with.
However, knowing all of this should not be the end game. We can all prevent ourselves from being vessels of disease transmission, and the strategy to achieving that is simple. It is no secret or mystery, in fact the answers have already been presented to us before. All we’ve got to do is to take steps towards consciously keeping our hands free from nasty microorganisms and germs. By doing so, we reap health benefits for ourselves while also helping people around us live better and healthier.
In conjunction with World Hand Hygiene day, we present you with 5 bad hand hygiene habits you should start cleansing from your life (If you have not already). For those who want to start adopting better hygiene habits but don’t know where to start, perhaps you should start by avoiding the 5 big “no-no’s” of hand hygiene that we have compiled below.
The first on our list is the most well-known and obvious bad hand hygiene habit. We’ve all been told, ever since a very young age, to wash our hands after using the toilet. However, studies have found that despite everyone knowing the importance of washing hands, 1 in 5 people still don’t wash their hands. This statistic is even more worrying for those working under office conditions as a separate study found that, 1 in 4 office workers don’t wash their hands after using the toilet. The same study also discovered that after relieving yourself, each of your hands may contain more than 200 million bacteria per square inch! Now, that’s an alarming amount of bacteria I’m sure we wouldn’t want to host on our palms.
So maybe you do wash your hands. Well, it still doesn’t mean your hands are clean enough. This may be shocking but you only eliminate the germs on your hands if you wash with the correct technique and according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only about 5% of people wash their hands correctly.
Experts claim that the use of soap as well as how long you wash your hands are big factors in ensuring hand hygiene. Studies have shown that an average person spends only 6 seconds washing their hands. However, the CDC recommends 15-20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and water to effectively kill germs. That’s about triple the average time we actually spend on washing our hands!
But of course, the right hand washing technique isn’t just scrubbing your hands at the same spot under the tap for 15-20 seconds. There are also other things to keep in mind like making sure to wash hard-to-reach spots such as under the fingernails or the often neglected back of the palm. To find out the correct method of hand washing, scroll all the way to the end!
Your skin, serves as an effective barrier against all the nasty microbes that try to infiltrate your body. Your mouth, however, is a whole different story. Unlike the skin, the mouth is a sweet spot for harmful bacteria and microorganisms to enter your system. Hence, we must be extra careful with the things we put into our mouths. That means no more chewing on the tip of your pen or using your fingers as convenient toothpicks if you want to keep bad microorganisms away.
Similarly, we should also be mindful of the food we put into our mouths. Often people look at their hands and assume that they are clean, then literally pick up a burger and proceed to munching. But bacteria and germs are microscopic in size, you may not see them but they are most definitely there. In fact, they accumulate as we touch different surfaces throughout our day. Imagine transferring the germs from the toilet door and toilet seat cover to your lunch, yuck! So, if you have this habit, it is undoubtedly time to cleanse it from your life.
So you wash your hands with soap and scrub all the nooks and crannies in your hands for a solid minute, does it mean that you’re finally in the clear? Research shows that you’re not. According to studies done by D.R. Patrick, wet hands spread 1000 times more germs than dry hands. This means that unless you dry your hands thoroughly after washing them with the correct method, you are still an accomplice to germ spreading. Make sure you don’t let all your efforts in hand hygiene go to waste by forgetting to dry your hands because drying your hands may just be the most important step besides actually washing your hands.
Most of us, if not all of us are guilty of this. In this technologically advanced age, it seems that no one is spared from having one device that is the handphone in our pockets and handbags. If you don’t believe us, just take some time during lunch to look around, there will be at least one person using their handphone while eating.
If you think the toilet is the dirtiest thing you come across in your day, you may need to take a closer look at your handphone. A recent study of 27 secondary school students’ handphones have suggested that handphones may contain a lot more harmful bacteria and germs than we thought. A professor from the university of Arizona also helpfully pointed out that a handphone may have 10 times more bacteria than an average toilet seat.
So, even if you wash your hands and dry them properly, you basically undo all the good by using your handphone while eating. In essence, you will transfer bacteria and germs from your handphone back onto your hands and proceed to make mistake #3 above.
After going through our top picks of bad habits to eradicate immediately, we understand that it may be a little overwhelming (especially the one about our precious handphones, yikes!). Changing habits can be difficult, but it is better to start breaking them now rather than later. To make sure you’re adopting better hand hygiene habits, follow our checklist below.
1. If you realised that you haven’t been washing your hands the right way, it’s never too late to start. Refer to the infographic below and start to adopt the correct method of hand washing:
2. After washing, make sure you dry your hands thoroughly, either with a paper towel or a regularly serviced hand dryer. As we explained above, dry hands are less likely to spread germs and bacteria around!
3. Since our electronic devices are usually teaming with bacteria it is recommended to have it wiped down as often as possible. For offices, investing in IT wipes for your employees will help them reduce the amount of bacteria that accumulates at their workstations, laptops and handphones. But if this is not available for you, do not despair, just make sure to sanitise or wash your hands after using your electronic gadgets and especially before touching your food!
By practicing the 3 tips above, and avoiding the 5 bad hand hygiene habits, you will be on the right track towards better hand hygiene practices and a healthier lifestyle.
For more information on our hand hygiene solutions, contact us at 1300 882 388 today!