washing of hands

Is it really true that it is good and right to wash your hands for 2 minutes to kill maximum germs/bacteria etc.

I consider myself clean, but 2 minutes feels like a long time for the washing of hands.

Mr. Germ said 2 minutes but the following advice about public restrooms seems more reasonable:

Proper hand washing techniques

Proper hand washing techniques can stop up to 90% germs from spreading. Learn how.

Dirty hands kill people! When your mother told you to go wash up before you eat, she wasn't just concerned about your tidy appearance at the table.

Well, maybe she was, but research is proving that her advice was medically sound. Proper hand washing can stop the spread of 99% of the germs that travel via droplets, and that covers a lot of nasty illnesses, including most flu viruses.

People who use public restrooms are especially susceptible to picking up germs left by others who don't practice good hygiene, but so is anyone who picks up reading material at the library, shares a keyboard with someone else, even handles a pen at a checkout counter that's been contaminated by someone with a virus.

One 1996 study of school children (published in Good Housekeeping, January, 1997) found that in schools where children scrubbed up thoroughly four times a day the absenteeism from colds and flu dropped nearly 70%.

Here's how to use a public washroom and keep yourself safe from the nasties others may have left behind.

First, make sure that you have access to a paper towels before you begin. This might mean turning the crank on a roller dispenser even before you turn the water on.


Let the water run if it doesn't shut off automatically.

Work up a good lather with lots of soap. Experts say that a 15 second scrub is usually sufficient, but health care workers are trained to keep that lather working for 30 seconds. (This is about as long as it takes to sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star all the way through.)

Another guideline is to rub each area ten times: ten circles around each wrist, ten rubs on the back of your palms, ten rubs with fingers interlaced. Use your nails to scrub the palms of the other hand ten times; this gets lather under the nail tip, too, which is a favorite hiding spot for germs. Open your palms out as flat as you can, and work the lather into all those lines and crevices.

Pay special attention to the surface along the thumb/forefinger line. This, along with our palms, is the surface we use most often to pick things up and to shake hands.

When you are finished scrubbing, rinse thoroughly, letting the water run off your fingertips. Now grab a paper towel and dry thoroughly, all the while letting the water run. When your hands are dry, use a clean, dry paper towel to turn off the water. Use that same paper towel to handle the doorknob to leave the room, don't toss it until the door is open.

(A dry paper towel is a better germ barrier than a wet one.)

If the restroom has a hot air dryer, use a tissue, a page from a magazine, or even your clothing to turn off the faucet and open the exit door.

If you have a choice, should you use an antibacterial soap? Experts disagree on this one. Some say yes, especially during flu and cold seasons or if someone in your family is ill. They say that not only does it kill germs on your hands, but leaves behind a barrier that slows the growth of bacteria.

Others disagree, saying it is the scrubbing that cleans hands and loosens germs that are then rinsed down the sink. They feel that the antibacterial soap gives a false sense of security and that people don't put spend time actually cleaning their hands with it, especially since most of the antiseptic properties don't become effective for ten to thirty minutes after use. If you do use a sanitizing soap, follow the same scrubbing procedure that you would with a regular soap.

Written by Diana Maree

Copyright 2002 by PageWise, Inc