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?
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.