Are You Cleaning Your Hands Wrong?

If there is one thing we’ve all heard plenty throughout the pandemic, it’s the importance of regularly washing our hands. And yet, many people may still be surprised to learn they aren’t ​getting the job done.

A quick squirt of soap, a few swipes of your hands together, rinse and a couple vigorous shakes to dry your hands. If this sounds familiar, you’ll want to read on. In honor of World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5, we thought we’d get back to basics and ensure you aren’t cleaning your hands wrong by reminding you of three important, often-neglected facets of handwashing: duration, diligence and drying.

Handwashing: Duration and Diligence

To thoroughly and properly clean your hands, you must rinse them with clean, running water. Warm or cold is fine. Then shut off the tap, apply soap, and rub hands vigorously together for a duration of at least 20 seconds. While this may not sound long, it’s longer than you think when you count it out. Don’t feel like counting? Sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself in regular time, twice.

Here’s where the diligence comes in. During those 20 seconds, be sure you are cleaning your entire hands, not just fronts and backs. Get between fingers, under your nails and even up past your wrists.

Essential Final Step: Thorough Drying

For the final step, you must dry your hands completely. That’s because germs can be transferred easier with wet hands. So, if you wipe them down your pantlegs, you are more likely to pick up whatever germs are there, undoing the time and effort you put into washing your hands. The same is true if you just shake them off to dry them; your damp hands are more likely to pick up germs from whatever you touch next, like the handle to the bathroom door (yuck!).

Dry your hands with a clean towel, paper towel or air dryer. A high-heat, fast dry-time hand dryer, like the XLERATOR® Hand Dryer, can get your hands dry in as little as eight seconds, helping to impede the spread of germs.

As an added bonus, our hand dryers offer a touchless hand hygiene solution because they eliminate the multiple unnecessary touch points that come with using paper towels, reducing the risk of germ transfer. Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list warm air dryers as an effective means of drying hands as part of proper hand hygiene protocols.

As Easy as 1-2-3

There you have it. Properly washing your hands, which is essential to your health, can be accomplished in about 30 seconds if you know the right steps to take. Now that you’re in the know, we hope you’ll spread the word (instead of germs!). You can find more hand hygiene resources on our website, or you can reach out to us anytime if you have questions.