Relatively speaking, we are a very clean society — some might even argue, too clean — but when it comes to handwashing, research shows that we’re anything but.
Why Washing your Hands is so Important to your Health
So, with cold and flu season in full swing, here’s a handful of reasons why we should all make handwashing a priority.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 80 percent of infectious diseases are transmitted by dirty hands.1
- It is estimated that washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50 percent.1
- Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16 percent.1
- In Pennsylvania elementary schools, handwashing-education programs have been shown to reduce absenteeism by 50.6 percent and save $167 per student, and have a projected annual savings of $24,300 per school.2
- Researchers in London estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented.1
Skip the Excuses — Not the Soap
While handwashing awareness is at an all-time high, only 66 percent of Americans actually wash their hands after using the bathroom, and worse yet, 70 percent admit to not using soap.3
Let’s first start with the fact that germs stick to hands really well, and it takes a fair amount of water and friction to remove them. While a vigorous and thorough washing (20+ seconds) with water alone does remove some germs, the gold standard for removing the most germs is soap. Here’s how soap works.
Here’s the right way to wash your hands to help prevent germs from spreading in your home and community:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands. Be sure to get the backs, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
That’s it. In less than 25 seconds, your hands are clean — and you can go out and enjoy a healthy and fun winter in Philly.
Note: When soap and water are not available, the CDC offers the following guidelines for When and How to Use Hand Sanitizer.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Show Me the Science — Why Wash Your Hands.
2Guinan, M. (2002). The effect of a comprehensive handwashing program on absenteeism in elementary schools. American Journal of Infection Control. http://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553(02)68131-3/abstract.
3PRNewswire. Global Handwashing Day Focuses on Need for Universal Hand Hygiene.