Hand Washing 101
Updated: Mar 15
By Ady Anderson
13 March 2020
If you work in the health field it is essential to have efficient practices, to help stop the spread of common illnesses such as a cold, the flu or gastrointestinal issues.
Hand washing is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to help reduce the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses. At any point of time during the day, we can have around 1,500 germs per square cm on our hands. This is why it is important to wash your hands several times throughout the day to reduce the accumulation and spread of germs.
You should always wash your hands after:
Preparing or consuming food;
Touching or handling a pet;
Going to the bathroom;
Sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose;
Being outside; or
Taking care of anyone who is sick.
Additional to the above moments, it’s important to realise that germs can be found on everyday objects. The average smart phone contains over 25,000 different bacteria, that’s more than a door handle or even a toilet seat. With the average person touching their phone 80 times a day, the contact quickly adds up. Droplets containing viruses, such as influenza, can last on surfaces, like your phone, keyboard or desk, for up to 24 hours, and the recent covid-19 (corona virus) has been found to have a surface lifespan of up to 6 days. So, if you need to sneeze or cough, ensure you are using a disposable tissue. In the absence of a tissue, your elbow may be used to cover your nose and mouth, to help reduce the spread of these droplets. It is a common misconception that washing your hands with water alone will do the job, however, soap is needed to kill the bacteria. An alcohol rub is also an effective and convenient way to clean your hands. If there is visible grim and dirt on your hands, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water as hand sanitizer may not kill certain bacteria if visibly dirty.
Studies have shown that by cleaning your hands with soap and water for 20-30 seconds, the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice, you can eliminate 99.99% of the bacteria on your hands.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer has been found to be 99% effective. So, if you are in the clinic and hear Happy Birthday coming from the rooms, you’ll know it’s just our patients and practitioners doing their part.
Do you're part and give your hands a good wash by following the recommendations provided.