Hand Washing: You Might Be Doing It Wrong

Washing hands

We all know how important it is to wash our hands. We wash after using the restroom and teach our children the importance of hand washing. It’s the simplest and most effective way to prevent the spread of infections or illness in every setting. However, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Health, the vast majority of us stink at hand washing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that we need to wash our hands for at least 15 seconds in order to kill off bacteria and prevent the spread of disease, however only five percent of people do so. The study tracked 3,749 people who used public restrooms in a variety of locations like restaurants and bars. A team of college students casually observed the subjects from the side and found out some nasty things about the public.

First of all, they learned that one-third of the subjects didn’t use soap while washing their hands. As a hand washing fanatic, this sounds about right to me. I’m always stunned at how many people just run their fingers under water without using soap. What’s the point?

Secondly, they uncovered that men are less likely than women to use soap. Half of all men who washed their hands didn’t bother lathering up, compared to 22 percent of women. Even more worrisome is that many people didn’t wash their hands at all. 15 percent of men left the restroom without even nodding at the sink, compared to seven percent of the women observed.

The researchers found that environmental factors played a heavy role in whether or not someone scrubbed up. Dirty sinks caused people to avoid washing. On the flip side, signs that were posted to remind customers to wash their hands made the subjects more likely to clean up properly.

For all of us who need a reminder about hand washing principles, the CDC offers the following guidelines:

  1. Wet your hands.
  2. Apply soap to the hands and work it into a lather.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (I like to sing “Happy Birthday” in my head twice).

One thing you should never wash your hands of is your chiropractic team. Washing your hands is probably one of the most important things you can do for your health, another is to see your chiropractic team regularly. If you want to learn more about how to stay active and healthy contact your chiropractor today.


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Photo credit: Washing hands by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget. Used under a Creative Commons license.

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.