Keep it clean

Wash your hands, damn it! But we don’t. Fewer of us in this country are washing our hands regularly even though it’s well established — and not only by our mothers and teachers — that there’s no better way to prevent transmission of a host of viruses and bacteria. A report from the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) two years ago was so bad that the group felt it had to designate a September week as National Clean Hands Week.

A survey found that only 85 percent of respondents said they washed their hands after going to the bathroom, down from 92 percent in 2006.

Fifteen to 20 seconds of hand-washing with soap is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, and the SDA. What’s the right way to do it?

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Turning on the water and exposing your fingers to it for a couple of seconds won’t do the job. Soap and warm water or an alcohol-based cleanser is necessary. When using soap and water your hands need to be involved with both for a good 20 seconds (the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice). Long enough to churn up a nice lather and scrub all surfaces, including under your rings.

Rinse well and dry your hands, preferably with a paper towel or air dryer. Then you can use the paper towel to turn off the faucet. You can even go a bit farther and use the paper towel to open the door.

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