Why We All Need to Wash Our Hands June 03 2015

Did you know that from your fingertips to your elbow, two to ten million bacteria are living on skin?  More staggering however, is that 50% of men and 25% of women do not wash their hands after going to the toilet.  Of those that do, 60% use only water and even those that do use soap, are likely to neglect washing properly their fingertips and thumbs in spite of germs doubling in these areas after going to the toilet. It is not just our hands that are dirty with 12% of adults admitting to having a proper wash only twice a week , 41% failing to shower every day (SCA) and one in seven of us leave it two days before brushing our teeth.  It is hardly surprising that 80% of infectious diseases are spread via touch. Harmful germs can live on hands for up to three hours.  Think about how many phones, computer keyboards and doors you touch within that time.

Hand-washing is the most effective way to avoid colds, flu and other viruses. If you want to improve school or workplace attendance, simply encourage hand washing and access to soap.  This could prove a very good investment if you consider that sickness absence costs employers £495 per person per year according to the CBI.

So how do you wash hands properly? Here are some quick tips  to remain bug-free and healthy:

  1. Frequency is vital as hands should be washed  at least five times a day and before eating.  
  2. Soap removes more bacteria than just water alone especially if if is worked  over the entire finger and thumbs and rubbed in between using rotating and up and down movements.  
  3. If you are worried that washing your hands frequently will dry out the skin, simply use cold rather than hot water which is much less drying.  
  4. The recommended time spent washing hands by organisations such as the NHS is 15 seconds, however 30 seconds spent washing hands is much more effective.  If you are not sure how long this is, sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself twice and you will have done a thorough job.  
  5. How you dry your hands is just as important.  Ideally, use a paper towel for drying your hands which you can also use for switching off the tap.  If you have not washed your hands properly, hand dryers will blow the bacteria into the air at a distance of 1.5 metres from the machine: airborne bacteria can live for up to fifteen minutes or for 45 minutes if they are blown onto a surface.

    Need a video to show you how to do all this?  Look at:  

    Finally of course, you need to remember to do this and make it an automatic habit.  Our range of hand-washing signs placed near sinks work in the home, workplace and school could be a very good investment both financially and health wise as well as looking pretty on your wall.  Now how to get people to wipe their feet and remove their shoes…