MOV Parent: Handwashing is as important as ever these days
Recently, hand washing has become a top priority for many. Medical professionals have always known hand washing is the best way to stop disease spread. The main reason for this is because we touch our faces more frequently than we realize. Various studies report the average person touches his or her face between 15-25 times each hour. From simply resting a face in a palm, to tousling hair, or scratching an itch, most are guilty of frequent face touching. This allows germs easy access to enter the body whether through the eyes, nose, or mouth. The habit of face touching means we also needs to develop another habit of hand washing.
One study found that 40 percent of Americans don’t wash their hands after using the restroom and only 5 percent of those who do, are doing it correctly. Proper hand washing includes soap, water, and thorough rinsing and drying.
Here are some myths and facts regarding handwashing.
You must use hot water – MYTH – for water to be hot enough to kill the germs on your hands, you would get burned. Warm water is most comfortable, but cold water will also work.
You must use antibacterial soap – MYTH – the friction from scrubbing loosens the dirt and germs from the cervices of your hands and will leave your hands clean.
You should scrub your hands for 20 seconds – FACT – at least 20 seconds of scrubbing will produce enough friction on your hands will loosen the dirt and germs.
Hand sanitizer is just as effective as soap and water – MYTH – hand sanitizer kills germs but doesn’t remove debris. Hand sanitizer actually works best on already clean hands to kill any germs not removed during hand washing. Hand washing is always best!
Towel drying vs. air dryer debate…The key is to make sure you are drying your hands completely. Wet, even damp, hands create a breeding ground for more germs. At home, be sure to change the towel daily to prevent mildew. If you are using a clean paper towel, you can use the towel to turn off the water and open the door, especially in a public restroom. If paper is unavailable in public restrooms, make sure to completely dry your hands with the air dryer. Rapidly rubbing your hands together, under the warm air, helps dry your hands more quickly. Wiping your hands on your clothes, defeats the purpose of washing your hands at all.
Here is a quick activity you can do with your children to show how germs are repelled by soap.
1. Large bowl
4. Soap/hand sanitizer
1. Grab a large bowl and fill the large bowl with 3/4 of full of water and add a couple sprinkles of black pepper. *You want a sufficient amount of pepper to be visible along the top of the water but not so much that you can’t see the water.
2. Add a couple drops of dish soap to your finger.
3. Place your finger with the soap into the water and watch as the germs ‘run away’ from the soap and cling to the side of the bowl.
Gwen Crum is a Family and Community Development Agent for the WVU Extension Service – Wood County. Laura Maidens is a STEM Assistant for the WVU Extension Service – Wood County.