NEXTAR (WKBN) – It’s important to not only wash your hands, but to wash them correctly. We all learned how to do it as a kid but would you still get an A in handwashing today?
“By washing your hands, you remove the germs from your hands and there’s less chance that you would succumb to the germs and pick up an infection,” said Tracy Styka, a health education specialist.
A recent study found only 5% of us wash our hands the correct way.
Michigan State researchers camped out in public restrooms and found 95% of people were cutting corners while washing their hands. The average handwashing time was just six seconds. A third of people didn’t use soap. Ten percent didn’t even wash their hands.
Styka said there are five simple steps to washing your hands the right way:
– Wet your hands
– Put soap on your hands and rub them together, including between your fingers and even under your nails
– Do that for at least 20 seconds — singing “Happy Birthday” twice
– Rinse your hands well
– Dry your hands or let them air-dry
“We recommend you wash your hands after touching any high-risk surfaces like door knobs, light switches, your phones, things like that that are held a lot and touched a lot by different people,” Styka said.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands with soap and water over using hand sanitizer because handwashing is more effective at removing certain kinds of germs.
“If you can wash your hands, because of the friction, it’s actually better. But if not, we recommend hand sanitizer,” Styka said.
The hand sanitizer should have an alcohol concentration of at least 60%.
“You don’t want to touch your mouth, your eyes, your nose if you haven’t washed your hands because you can get an infection from doing that,” Styka said. “The more you can wash your hands, the better to stop the spread of infectious disease.”
One study suggests the worldwide spread of disease could be lowered significantly if more people traveling through 10 major airports close to an outbreak would wash their hands correctly.