What might be lurking on your most-touched items?

Every day our hands come into contact with hundreds of thousands of different types of germs, including bacteria, viruses, and even fungi. Our hands pick up these germs and can easily transfer them to other areas of our body and our most used personal items.

When it comes to the importance of handwashing, there’s no better way to stress how important it really is than by learning that over 10% of cellphones, credit cards, cash, and coins have fecal matter lurking on them! As gross as this statistic may be, it’s a great way to really understand why we need to wash our hands properly and often.

How do proper handwashing habits keep us healthy?

There are two ways handwashing keeps us healthy.

First, washing your hands using the proper technique eliminates 99% of germs, including some rather nasty types of bacteria and viruses. By removing these germs you won’t be spreading them to other surfaces or to other areas of your body. This ensures a healthier environment overall for you and everyone around you.

Secondly, removing these germs reduces your chances of getting an illness or disease. Chances are you touch your face far more often than you realize, such as rubbing your nose or resting your chin on your hand. Studies show that the typical adult touches their face as much as 18 times in just one hour!

People who practice proper handwashing habits are 20 to 50% less likely to get sick from foodborne diseases, common colds, and respiratory illnesses.

The Right Way — and Time! — to Wash Your Hands

The two most important factors in proper handwashing are washing for long enough and using soap. The majority of adults don’t wash for nearly long enough and a surprising number admit that they don’t use soap.

Here’s what to remember when washing your hands:

  • Always use soap. Even plain soap is highly effective in removing germs.
  • Cold or warm water? It’s up to you!
  • Wash all surfaces of your hands, front and back, up to your wrists.
  • Really scrub the soap around each finger and under the nails.
  • Nail brushes are optional but can be useful for long nails.
  • Actively scrub your hands for a FULL 20 seconds. This is the most important step!
  • Dry with an air dryer, disposable paper towel, or clean cloth.

You should wash your hands after contacting any contaminated surface and before touching anyone directly. Some important times to wash include:

  • Before and after eating a meal — even a snack.
  • Before, during, and after prepping food.
  • Before and after caring for someone (i.e., first aid).
  • After using the restroom.
  • After touching pets or pet food.
  • After touching waste of any sort, including garbage cans.

Using hand sanitizer is perfect for keeping hands clean on the go, but it isn’t a replacement for handwashing. If you do use hand sanitizer while out running errands or in the office, be sure to also wash your hands well when you can.

Drs. Barr and Diachenko provide a healthy environment for patients.

Our team takes your overall health just as seriously as your oral health. We hold very high standards of hygiene and additional health and safety protocols to ensure our office is as sanitary and welcoming as possible.

You can learn more about how we maintain a healthy environment for patients by giving us a call or using this online form.