Try to tell the average individual they are not washing their hands correctly and chances are they will take great offense. Nevertheless, a study carried out in 2013 showed that a rather worrying 95% of people are in fact guilty of not washing their hands ‘properly’ – that being, in accordance with official guidelines.
In terms of the reason why, much of it of course comes down to both ignorance and laziness, but at the same time there are millions of people who believe they are getting the job done properly, when they are in fact not. There are so many myths and untruths when it comes to hand washing that it is somewhat inevitable that many people will have fallen into inadequate hygiene regimes, without even realising it.
So in order to set the record straight on just a few examples, here’s a quick rundown of five hand washing myths that really could do with being scrubbed away permanently:
1 – If using soap, the actual time it takes to wash your hands is irrelevant
Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case at all as plenty of scientific research has shown that it is important to scrub hands using soap for between 20 and 30 seconds for the job to be done properly. What must be remembered is that it is not only about removing visible dirt – it’s also about removing germs.
2 – Hand sanitiser can be used to replace soap and water
One of the most widespread myths of all, it’s assumed by millions these days that just as long as hand sanitiser is used on a regular basis, hand washing practices can be put on a backseat. In reality however, hand sanitisers are supposed to be used as something as an additional supplement to hand washing, or in instances where hand washing is fundamentally impossible. Hand sanitisers are great at killing many germs and bacteria, but there are some they simply cannot tackle alone.
3 – Hot water works better
Logic might tell you that hotter water would do a better job when it comes to cleaning hands – logic would also be wrong. Extensive studies have shown that there’s really no beneficial difference between washing your hands in tepid water and scrubbing them under painfully hot water. In fact, the fact that hot water is known to damage the skin and leave it more susceptible to attacks from germs and bacteria means that using water that’s too hot could in fact be counterproductive.
4 – If they’re clean enough, thorough drying isn’t important
Not true at all, for the simple reason that it is almost impossible to get literally 100% of the nasties off your hands while washing them in the first place, meaning that the more time they spend damp, the more time there is for the germs and bacteria to grow and spread. Faster drying means cleaner hands – it’s as simple as that.
5 – Paper towels are more hygienic than hot air hand dryers
Last but not least, this is a subject that has been debated ever since hot air hand dryers were invented, though evidence suggests there’s actually little to no difference between the two whatsoever. Instead, it all comes down to how thoroughly the hands are washed in the first place and how quickly they are dried afterwards.