Beat the bugs – brush up on your hand washing technique

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As the cure for colds, flus and other seasonal viruses and bacteria continues to elude us, it’s best to avoid getting sick in the first place, and good old handwashing is the cheapest and most effective form of infection control we have. Yet many of us don’t wash our hands when we should and when we do, we don’t do it properly. Here’s some tips to assist you to upgrade your hand washing skills.

 

7. Remember to rinse

Once the soap and the friction have lifted the dirt and germs from your hands, you want to rinse them down the sink. Again, you want to rinse under clean running water if possible.

8. When there’s no water

A bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitiser or gel in your bag can be useful if you need to clean your hands and you can’t access water, for example when you’re out and about and need clean hands to eat food. Choose products that contain at least 60 per cent alcohol, which kill germs by direct action of the alcohol. These products are still somewhat drying but less likely to cause dry skin and dermatitis than soap is. They also cut the time it takes to clean your hands, one reason for their widespread use in hospitals.

9. Drying matters

Drying is as important as washing, as any wet spots on your hands provide bugs with a place to breed. Also bacteria and viruses are more readily transferred to other surfaces when there’s moisture around. There is some debate about the best way to dry your hands. Commercial hand dryers work well, but research shows most people tend not to use dryers long enough to dry their hands properly.This has led some experts to suggest good old paper or cloth towels are really the best option, with cloth probably having the edge because it’s easier on your hands. At home, the advice is to give each family member their own towel and wash them all often.

10. Keep your hands away from your face

if you keep your hands away from your face the germs will find it harder to make their way inside your body. Once we’ve picked up the virus on our hands, it’s all too easy for it to be transferred to our mouth, nose or eyes, where it can more readily enter cells and make us sick. Germs on our hands can also be transferred to others via surfaces we touch or by gestures like a handshake.