From a young age we’re taught to wash our hands regularly – particularly after we’ve handled animals or used the toilet. It’s also important to wash your hands before preparing food, and after you’ve finished. In addition, you might want to wash your hands a few times during the food preparation process, to avoid cross-contamination.
How often do people wash their hands?
The American Cleaning Institute found that in the US, 50% of people washed their hands more than ten times a day. 1% of people washed their hands just one or two times. Everyone else fit somewhere in the middle, washing their hands between three and ten times per day.
Women are more likely to wash their hands regularly than men, and only 26% of people spend more than 20 seconds at a time washing their hands. A majority of people wash their hands for just 10-15 seconds.
Are we doing enough?
More and more companies are providing hand sanitiser for employees and site visitors. In addition, there are signs in many workplaces asking people to wash their hands after they’ve used the washroom. Are we getting obsessed, or is it true that we’re still not doing enough?
In fact, UK studies show that Brits are even more relaxed than Americans. UK studies have shown that only 5% of people wash their hands for long enough to actually kill germs. 20% of people admit that they don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, and another 10% say that they only dip their hands under the water. Though we were taught to wash our hands as children, 30% of adults don’t bother or simply put their hands under a tap without making any real effort.
How should we wash our hands?
It takes 20 seconds of hand-washing to kill germs. You should have your all parts of your hands under the water at some point, and you should use soap ensuring that you completely cover your hands. Alternatively, use an antibacterial hand sanitiser.
What is the impact of not washing your hands properly?
Don’t read this fact just before lunch, or before an interview which will require you to shake someone’s hand: More than 25% of people are walking around with faecal matter on their hands.
A shocking 11% of people have hands as dirty as a toilet bowl, and all sorts of germs are being transferred to bank cards, notes, mobile phones, computer keyboards and mice, public transport, hand rails and the people that we come into contact with every day.
Fortunately your immune system works to protect you from germs, which is why it’s important not to become too obsessed with cleanliness, but it’s unpleasant to think that even if you wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds you could have faecal particles on your fingers – and if you ARE a thorough hand-washer, then it’s likely that those particles of poo are not even yours!
Only 39% of people wash their hands before eating. Many of us shop for a sandwich, take change that’s been touched by other people, get the train home with our hands on rails, open our front door using a handle that’s been exposed to the outside air, sit down at the table and eat our sandwich without considering all of the germs that we’ll have been in contact with in the last hour.
What are the other costs of not washing your hands?
If you run a business or manage a public space then you should think also of the financial impact of your employees or site visitors not washing their hands. Germs can quickly spread to cause illness, whether you’re running a restaurant and end up being blamed for food poisoning because people in your restaurant washrooms aren’t properly washing your hands, or you manage a hospital where germs are spreading from one ill person to the next.
It’s important to do as much as you can to stop germs from being passed from one person to another, as well as being constantly mindful of your own hand-washing habits. Great ideas to reduce the spread of germs include automatic hand dryers, automatic taps and automatic doors, as well as hand sanitiser dispensers located outside a public toilet so that people that have washed their hands can use it after touching toilet doors to exit the room.
Comment below, and share your thoughts on hand washing. How often do you wash your hands, and how long for?