The simplest way to keep yourself – and others – safe
Mum and Dad always said it – and they were right: wash your hands. The practice rinses away garden-variety bad bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, both of which are common food poisoning triggers; it can also save you from cold and flu viruses, not to mention scary things like coronavirus. But if you don’t wash properly, you’re putting yourself at risk. Don’t make these mistakes.
You don’t wash long enough
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health found that 95 per cent of people don’t wash hands long enough to effectively kill germs – that’s 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and water, according to the Australian Government department of Health. “We tell kids and adults to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice,” says clinical associate professor, Dr Roshini Raj. The average hand-washing time was only about six seconds, the study found. What’s more, 15 per cent of men and 7 per cent of women didn’t wash their hands at all after using the restroom.
You skip nooks and crannies
If you just rub soap between your palms, rinse and call it a day, your hands are probably still dirty. “Germs love to hide under fingernails and in the pockets between fingers, so you should scrub these areas every time you wash,” says Dr Raj. Be sure to scrub vigorously to work up a good lather – friction is key to eliminate dirt, grease and microbes from the skin.