The simplest way to ensure basic hygiene is washing hands. It is our best defence and a self-vaccine that fights all kinds of pathogens (a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease), including cold and flu virus, and E. coli bacteria, and can reduce the risk of you developing any diarrheal and respiratory illness.
Global Handwashing Day is observed on October 15 to raise awareness about better hand hygiene every day and its benefits. Washing your hands does not take much time and it offers great rewards in terms of preventing illness. Adopting this simple habit can play a major role in protecting your health. In fact, washing your hands with water and soap will help cut down on disease transmission and help you to avoid getting sick. While rinsing your hands may remove some bacteria, adding soap to the equation really bumps up the cleansing power of hand washing.
Here are the dos and don’ts that you must keep in mind
- Thoroughly wet your hands with clean water, either warm or cold.
- Apply soap, preferably a mild one, and form foam by rubbing hands together for minimum 20 seconds. The soap and friction created by rubbing will loosen and remove dirt and germs.
- Ensure you wash entire surface of the hands, including the front and back, the wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
- Keep hands and forearms lower than the elbows to prevent water from flowing from the most contaminated area to the least contaminated area.
- Dry hands thoroughly and clean towel. If possible, turn off the water faucet using the towel. To prevent chapping, pat rather than rub hands when drying.
- Use hot water to wash hands as it has not been proven to remove more germs and can lead to chapping, making it more susceptible to bacteria.
- Allow water to run over hands while lathering. This washes soap away and makes the cleaning less effective.
- Touch the sink surface after washing your hands. It is contaminated with microbes.
- Spend on antibacterial soap as these soaps are not as more effective at killing germs than a regular soap, and may even promote development of resistant bacteria.
- Skip hand-washing if soap and running water are not available. Instead, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Always wash your hands before
- Preparing food or eating
- Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person
- Inserting or removing contact lenses
Always wash your hands after
- Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
- Using toilet or changing a diaper
- Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes, or waste
- Blowing nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
- Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
- Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes
- Wash your hands whenever they look dirty