Everything You Need to Know About Safe Handwashing by: David Afforo

From the person who brings you Oakland Mills’ favorite cartoons comes: a guide to safe handwashing. With this pandemic going on, I felt it was important to go over handwashing again so we can work on ending the pandemic as soon as possible. In this article, you’ll find some facts about why handwashing is so paramount, some myths about handwashing, and even a step by step tutorial on an effective hand washing method.

With that, let’s start with why handwashing is so important. Apparently, handwashing is more than taking soap and water and spreading it across your hands. According to the CDC, handwashing is the process of removing germs from the hands, hence the term handwashing. If these germs are left unattended, it can lead the way to potential diseases (yes, even COVID-19). That’s why it’s so crucial to wash your hands, especially when you prepare and/or eat food, handle animals, care for sick people, and of course, leave the bathroom.

In a moment, I will be going over some myths when it comes to handwashing, but first, here’s an effective way to wash your hands. First turn on the water, and then get some soap and spread it across your hands as much as you can. I usually swap the order of that process which, to be honest, isn’t too effective since I end up getting soap on the handles, though I’m thinking of using the other process to wash my hands now, but any process you use is fine. Then run your hands under running water and spread for 20 seconds. As you wash your hands, hum a tune like The Happy Birthday Song or the Alphabet Song twice to make sure you’ve washed every area of your hands, including in between the fingers, the wrists, and even under the fingertips. After that, dry it and forget it. And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: handwashing myths. People think that as long as they use soap to wash their hands, they can wash their hands in less than 30 seconds. This is false: whether you use soap or not, it’s always key to wash your hands for 30 seconds. Believe me, I’ve fallen prey to washing my hands in under 30 seconds, and that only ends up increasing your risk of infection. With that, let’s move on. Another handwashing myth is that you can use air dryers to dry your hands. Well as crazy as this is about to sound, that is also false. Since there’s a strong chance bacteria is living inside the dryer, your risk of infection also increases. To me, this

really isn’t new. I heard about the unsanitary of air dryers in a radio program once and stopped using hand dryers since then (I sparingly use the school hand dryer, only because I like the sound it makes when it dies down, but I’ve stopped using the ones at the school where my church meets, taking into account how unsanitary the bathrooms there are). I’m not saying you should stop air drying your hands, but if you want clean hands, try drying your hands with something other than an air dryer. Here’s another myth: gloves are your safeguard against germs and infections. That is false: studies have shown that wearing gloves increases your risk of infection than not wearing any. Studies have also shown that people are less likely to wash hands while wearing gloves4. So, whether you are wearing gloves or not, you still need to wash your hands. Here’s one more: the hotter the water is, the better chance of clean hands. That is false, false, and double false. Studies have shown that while temperature is no factor in the cleanliness of one’s hands, hotter water could dry up the skin when it’s washed with for too long3. That’s why it’s important to use warm water to wash your hands. 

I hope this article helped with your hand washing routine and made you rethink all the stuff you could be doing wrong. I understand this pandemic has brought the worst on this country, but view it as a reminder of how important personal hygeine can be. I could go on about practicing social distancing, but that’s for another time. For now, this is your resident cartoonist reminding you to stay safe and, if possible, stay home.

1 “Show Me the Science – Why Wash Your Hands?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Sept. 2018, www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html.

2 Department of Health & Human Services. “Handwashing – Why It’s Important.” Better Health Channel, Department of Health & Human Services, 4 Nov. 2015, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/handwashing-why-its-important.

3 Diamond, Frank, et al. “Debunking the Five Most Common Handwashing Myths.” Infection Control Today, 5 Oct. 2014, www.infectioncontroltoday.com/hand-hygiene/debunking-five-most-common-handwashing-myths.

4 Jones, Shann. “Myths and Facts About Hand Washing.” Chuckling Goat, 9 Mar. 2020, www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/myths-and-facts-about-hand-washing/.

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