Hand Hygiene Day, May 5: Clean Hands Save Lives


April 29th, 2019

Washing your hands – it’s such a basic action we all do, but do you wash your hands often enough? Do you wash them properly? Most people think they do. May 5 is Hand Hygiene Day, so let’s see what you know about hand washing with this quiz.

1- To clean your hands thoroughly, you should wash them for:

  1. 10 seconds
  2. 20 seconds
  3. 30 seconds
  4. 40 seconds

2- Washing your hands is more effective if you use an antibacterial soap

  •             True
  •             False

3- Hot water is the most effective for washing hands.

  •             True
  •             False

4- Applying moisturizing lotion after washing your hands helps keep your hands clean.

  •             True
  •             False

5- Soapless hand cleansers  (hand sanitizers) are faster for cleaning your hands.

  •             True
  •             False

6- It doesn’t matter if you use bar soap or liquid soap

  •             True
  •             False

 

Answers:

1 – 20 seconds is how much time you should spend washing your hands. If you have trouble teaching your children how long this is, suggest they hum or sing Happy Birthday twice. That is about the right amount of time. Source

2- False. There is no research that shows antibacterial soaps are more effective at cleaning your hands than traditional soaps. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that antibacterial soaps are no longer allowed to be marketed to the general public. Source

3- False. We can’t tolerate hot enough water to kill viruses and bacteria on our hands, but it’s not the heat that does the trick. It’s the lathering and rubbing of your hands together that eliminate or remove the germs from your skin. Source

4- True. The lotion doesn’t have any properties itself that protect your hands from bacteria or viruses, but it’s believed that well moisturized skin helps keep skin from cracking or getting damaged, so there are fewer places for bacteria to hide. Source

5- False, with a caveat. If you don’t have access to soap and water, and if your hands aren’t visibly soiled, soapless cleansers are what you need to clean your hands. If you use a soapless cleanser, you still need to rub your hands together and clean between your fingers for 20 seconds as you would with soap and water. You won’t save time there. However, if it would take you out of your way to go to the sink to wash your hands, that is where you may save a bit of time.  Source

6- This was a trick question. Both liquid and bar soaps will do a good job on your hands if you use proper hand washing technique. The problem is not the washing but the soap itself. Bar soap can accumulate germs every time you use it. Then the soap sits and dries, waiting for the next person to pick it up. Liquid soap doesn’t get as contaminated because you don’t touch the soap you don’t use. But even with liquid soap there is a difference. Refillable liquid soap bottles or containers collect bacteria too. The safest in terms of not collecting bacteria and spreading it are the sealed liquid soap containers, that are not refillable. Source

How did you do?

Proper hand washing is vital to help reduce spreading infection, which could trigger sepsis. Whether it’s when you come in after being out shopping or working, you’ve used the bathroom or changed a diaper, or you’re getting ready to serve a meal, clean hands can make the difference between getting sick and staying heathy.

You can learn more about hand washing, healthcare-acquired infections, and how to wash your hands properly in this article, Washing Your Hands: This Simple Step Can Save Lives.