6 Benefits of Proper Hand Washing

Mom was right again. As basic as it may seem, washing your hands frequently is one of the best ways to prevent getting sick.

Germs that cause bacterial and viral infections are everywhere. But things we touch all the time – computer keyboards, cell phones, money, toilet seats and light switches – are especially dirty.

With these helpful tips, learn how to wash your hands properly so you can stay healthy all year long!

Proper Techniques for Hand Washing

Not all hand washing is created equal. For instance, when we’re in a hurry, we might just use a quick squirt of soap, a couple seconds’ lather and rinse, then leave with our hands half-dry.

But that’s not good enough to kill germs. To do that, you need to wash your hands using these proper techniques:

  • First, wet your hands with water – the warmer, the better.
  • Cup your hand and apply soap, lathering well.
  • Rub your hands together vigorously, washing the palms, backs, nails and nailbeds, and in between the fingers, all the way up to your wrists. While doing so, sing “Happy Birthday” in your head. That’s right – it takes about 20 seconds to sing this tune, which is the recommended length of your wash.
  • Rinse and dry your hands thoroughly, using a towel to turn off the faucet. If you’re in a public bathroom, use a paper towel to open the bathroom door as well.
  • Skip the antibacterial soap – studies show it’s not any more effective at killing germs than regular soap. Plus, using it regularly only makes bacteria stronger and more resistant to antibiotics.

Top Benefits of Proper Hand Washing

Bacteria accumulate on our hands constantly, so it’s impossible to keep them completely germ-free. But washing your hands properly, and often, limits the transfer of germs and has many great benefits.

  1. Keeps your workplace healthy: Anyone who has ever had a job knows how easy it is for sickness to spread in the workplace. Once a co-worker gets sick, it’s not long before everyone else is under the weather. Proper hand washing by all employees can drastically cut down on the spread of illness – and even helps with not getting infected in the first place.
  2. Less food-borne illnesses: Nearly all food-borne illnesses arise from improper hand washing. And this doesn’t just happen in unfamiliar restaurant kitchens. At home, you also need to be vigilant about washing your hands before and after meal preparation and serving food.
  3. Lowers survival rate for lingering bacteria: Bacteria have been on this planet for billions of years. They are masters at staying alive. So don’t expect them to simply die off if you don’t wash your hands. They can thrive on your hands for days, seeking refuge in your fingernails and cuticles.
  4. Helps combat the rise in antibiotic resistance: Proper hand washing can prevent stomach-related and respiratory illnesses by over 30 percent. Antibiotics are often unnecessarily prescribed to combat these infections, which in many cases are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Widespread overuse of antibiotics leads to bacterial resistance, making illnesses more difficult to cure around the globe.
  5. Keeps kids healthier: Teaching children how to properly wash their hands can cut way down on the spread of sickness in daycare centers, schools and at home. Tiny hands come into contact with hundreds of different surfaces and objects on a daily basis. Keeping those hands clean and germ-free helps kids, teachers, parents and everyone stay well!
  6. Prevents infections through eyes, nose and mouth: Whether we realize it or not, we touch our eyes, nose and mouth up to four times an hour. This adds up to dozens of opportunities for bacteria to happily enter our bodies and cause infection. Thorough hand washing reduces the odds that these nasty microbes will make it anywhere near your face.
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