Nutrition and Healing

Dr. Glenn Rothfeld’s Nutrition & Healing is intended to provide cutting-edge health information.
Nothing on this site should be interpreted as personal medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before changing anything related to your healthcare.

It’s something we’ve heard over and over again from health authorities during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Wash your hands 

It makes sense, because viruses – like coronavirus and the flu – can be spread by your hands. 

And washing is an effective way to eliminate viral particles from your hands.  

However, you may be surprised to learn: Hand washing is not as easy as it may seem. 

In fact, multiple studies have found that people are washing their hands wrong – and don’t even know it. 

So today, I want to share with you six common mistakes that could be sabotaging your hand washing – and HOW to correct them. 

Hand washing: Do’s and Don’ts 

Improper washing can leave you susceptible to germs. Make sure you’re not making any of these six mistakes: 

#1 You don’t wash long enough 

A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health found 95 percent of people don’t wash their hands long enough to effectively kill germs. You need to scrub for at least 20 seconds with soap and water – singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice is a good measurement.  

#2 You don’t scrub the nooks and crannies 

If you’re only scrubbing your palms, and then call it a day, you’re probably still dirty. Don’t forget to scrub the back of your hands, between your fingers, and especially under your fingernails. Germs love to hide between your fingers and under your nails. 

#3 You don’t dry your hands properly 

Even if you are washing your hands properly, your techniques are worthless is you’re skimping out on drying afterwards. Germs transfer more easily to wet hands, so take the time to dry your hands with a clean towel. And if you’re in a public space, opt for paper towels over a hand drier. A review from the 1970s found that paper towels are superior to electric driers. 

#4 You only wash after using the restroom 

This is a big mistake!! You should be washing your hands after touching any public surface – from an elevator button to an ATM. Washing periodically during cold and flu season is recommended. And if you don’t have access to soap and water, you can use hand sanitizer – just make sure the sanitizer contains at least 60 percent alcohol 

#5 You don’t use enough soap 

In the case of washing hands, less is not more. Be generous with the soap, a nickel to a quarter size is ideal. And don’t worry about buying antibacterial soap, very little evidence shows that it’s any better than plain soap.  

#6 You assume you need to use hot water 

This is simply not true! Despite the widespread belief that you need hot water to kill germs, lukewarm or even cold water does the trick just as well. In fact, they’re actually better for your skin because they’re less drying. And be sure to rinse thoroughly with water after scrubbing to remove all the germs and dirt you lifted off your hands. 

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