If most people wash their hands, why is there so much sickness out there? Well, to answer that question, let’s look at the top three mistakes most people (myself included) usually make while washing their hands.
· Being in a hurry
We all remember our parents teaching us to turn the water on, get the soap on our hands, make sure all the soap gets rinsed off and then turn the water off. While this is decent advice, the fact is that the soap you just washed off your hands hasn’t had time to really fight off all those germs. There are conflicting views on exactly how long to scrub your hands with soap, but a good estimate is around 20 seconds. So pick out a nursery rhyme or recite your ABCs a couple of times, and you’ll give that soap plenty of time to work its magic.
· The community towel
While it may look oh so pretty, the towel draped over the towel holder ring is a huge landfill for all those nasty germs. Most of the time you only see these at someone’s house, but they do appear in local businesses and restaurants attempting to cut down on expenses. The fact is that not everyone is taking the time necessary to wash their hands thoroughly, and the next thing those hands touch is the community towel. I once saw an employee of a nice restaurant wipe up something off the floor with a community towel, then fold it up and put it right back on the towel holder! If this is your only option for drying your hands, let them air dry!
· Bare-handing the door handle
While there are a few people out there who don’t do this, the overwhelming majority of people who wash their hands in a public bathroom dry their hands and grab the door handle on their way out. I’ll never forget in nursing school we took swabs from the door handle at school and the underside of a toilet seat and were shocked to see the difference. The door handles had more than three times the germs than those under the toilet seat! Although you may have to go out of your way a little bit, take the paper towel with you to grab the door handle with, or use your elbow if it’s the type you can push down.
The best defense against germs is proper hand washing technique. It’s true that old habits die hard, so it may take some time, but you’ll be thankful in the end if you try to avoid these three hand washing mistakes.
Justin Glaze is an LPN and contributing columnist for the Walker County Messenger. He can be reached at 678-988-1011 or email@example.com.