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Hand hygiene – let’s bust some myths

Hand washing is something that we all probably think we’re pretty good at it, right? It’s one of those daily tasks we do on autopilot, without thinking. However, there are almost certainly ways we could be making sure our hand washing is more effective.

And it’s really important – clean hands save lives. Washing your hands regularly (and well) can avoid spreading many common infections, as well as bugs associated with colds, flu, diarrhoea and vomiting too.

When should I be washing them?

Always wash your hands after using the bathroom – and if you’re a parent, wash your hands after changing each nappy. (And always wash your hands before feeding your baby too.) You should be washing your hands before you come into and leave a healthcare setting and also before eating or handling food.

Myth 1 – Hot water cleans better

The heat of the water you use to wash your hands will not affect how clean they get. Soap and scrubbing are more important. Wet your hands first – with either warm or cold water. Piping hot water is not necessary.

Myth 2 – You don’t need to wash both sides

It’s not just the palms you should be focusing on. Apply soap and lather your hands – make sure you get both sides of your hands, in between your fingers and under your nails.

Myth 3 – You don’t need to wash for that long if you use soap

The next step is to scrub the soap off – for at least 20 seconds. Are you scrubbing long enough? One handy trick to make sure you’re washing your hands for enough time is to sing the Happy Birthday song to yourself twice at the sink to ensure you stick around long enough!

But what about hand sanitiser?

One final myth busted… Hand sanitisers are not an alternative to washing your hands, especially if you’ve been to the bathroom. Use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol in it.

In fact, you should only really use alcohol rubs if your hands look clean and are not visibly soiled or greasy. If you have the option to use soap and water, it is always the best method to choose.

Looking for some more handy healthcare tips? Our Health Hub has you covered – check out some more articles here.