Hand hygiene is the practice of cleaning hands to prevent the spread of germs. It can be one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy and prevent the spread of illness to others, especially in the winter months when germs seem to travel more rapidly. It can be important to take extra precautions and wash your hands more often, primarily in high-traffic areas such as offices, school buildings, medical buildings, and retail stores.
We all know that washing our hands is important, but have you ever thought about the process of washing your hands or if the products you are using are going to ensure clean hands every time? What kind of soap is best? Will hot or cold water kill germs quicker? Is it more effective to use a paper towel or to use an air dryer? On this National Handwashing Day, we are going to dive deep into the handwashing process and the products to use to keep our hands clean while answering some commonly asked questions.
Germs can be spread from person to person through contact with contaminated surfaces. When you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you can transfer the germs to your body which could lead you to becoming sick. It can be important to think about how easily germs spread and to avoid touching things like doorknobs, light switches, and railings without washing or sanitizing your hands afterwards – especially in high traffic places. Here is a breakdown of the hand washing process, and what is recommended by the CDC:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water. It might be a habit to go straight for the soap, but using water first can help ensure that you are effectively cleaning your hands. Soap and water are meant to be used together to create a lather, so skipping this step might not leave your hands the cleanest.
- Apply enough soap to cover your hands. The amount you use can depend on how dirty your hands are, or how many contaminated surfaces you’ve touched since the last time you washed your hands.
- Lather and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds in water that is comfortable to you. Scrub all areas of your hands, including in between your fingers, the backs of your hands, and even underneath your fingernails if they are long enough with soap.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Getting all the soap off with clean water can help ensure that germs, dirt, and bacteria all go down the drain and are off your hands and skin. Rinsing well can also help reduce skin irritation that some soaps may cause.
- Dry your hands thoroughly with a single-use paper towel. Since most people don’t always follow these steps every single time they wash their hands, germs can remain on their hands even after washing. So, drying with a single-use paper towel can be the most hygienic method. It’s considered to be the most hygienic method because a reusable towel isn’t being shared among others who may not be washing their hands correctly. Paper towels can also help remove germs that may be left on your hands through friction. They can also act as a barrier between your freshly washed hands and the faucet or the restroom door handle, which can both be contaminated with germs. Kimberly-Clark has a wide variety of paper towel dispensers to add to your office’s restroom, so be sure to check them out if you need an upgrade.
By following these simple steps, you can help to protect yourself and others from the spread of germs. With cold and flu season fast approaching, it can be a good idea to review these handwashing steps with employees to ensure they are preventing the spread of germs the best they can. After all, no one likes being sick!
*Based on Kimberly-Clark’s PDF located at the end of this post, we are going to answer some questions about handwashing. You can find more detailed answers to these questions along with the references in the PDF*
Q: Does it matter if I use antimicrobial soap or not?
A: The concise answer is no. It can be more beneficial to use good handwashing techniques instead of worrying about the kind of soap that is used. In some professions like healthcare, the kind of soap does matter, but for those who don’t work in hygiene critical conditions, focusing on proper handwashing can be more effective.
Q: Does the water temperature matter?
A: The temperature of the water you are washing your hands with may not influence the number of germs you kill in the process. Using a temperature that is comfortable for you can be the best way to go.
Q: How does hand sanitizer facilitate good hand hygiene?
A: Hand sanitizer is a great way to quickly kill germs and bacteria and can maintain hand hygiene in between washes. It can be common for healthcare professionals to use hand sanitizer more often to help eliminate the risk of spreading germs to patients. While washing hands is considered the most effective way to kill germs, hand sanitizer can be great for when hand washing isn’t accessible. Kimberly-Clark offers a wide variety of hand sanitizer dispensers to keep everyone’s hands fresh and clean.
Q: What are some ways to improve hand hygiene compliance?
A: You can encourage people to wash their hands regularly by keeping products like soap and paper towel dispensers filled and maintained in all restrooms. Having a backstock of products like soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer can be a great place to start because no one wants to run out of handwashing supplies! Placing hand sanitizer dispensers in accessible and high traffic places like hallways and waiting rooms can encourage people to use it as they walk by. Having eye appealing signs in the restrooms displaying the proper handwashing steps can also be helpful to remind folks of the proper techniques.
Q: Does improving hand hygiene in places like offices really make any difference to health?
A: Even though you cannot see germs and bacteria with the naked eye, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Having good hand hygiene in places like offices does matter and can help reduce the spread of illness.
Well, there you have it folks. Handwashing step-by-step and an insightful question and answer from none other than Kimberly-Clark. Keeping your co-workers and employees informed of the proper handwashing techniques and the importance of them can be critical for this upcoming cold and flu season. If you need some new products for the restroom, Kimberly-Clark has all your office’s handwashing needs. From a variety of hand sanitizer and soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, to replacement parts, check out everything that Kimberly-Clark has to offer to keep everyone eager to wash away those germs.
*The link below contains a more detailed version of this post from Kimberly-Clark with the addition of references*