Hey you! Yes, you! I don’t care how hygienic you think you are, hand washing is an art form which we all need to perfect to prevent the spread of bacteria and illnesses, including coronavirus. Doing so may give your vocals chords a nice workout too.
Yesterday the NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard told Aussies: “Don’t shake hands and wash your hands frequently.” It’s the main piece of advice being dished out by health officials, and it’s actually more important than wearing face masks. But too many of us still have no idea how to wash out hands properly. Here’s how:
Step 1: Rinse your hands
This might sounds obvious, but for many people it’s not. Rinse your hands with running water BEFORE you even think about using soap. Get both hands completely wet.
Step 2: Lather soap everywhere
When using soap, don’t just rub your palms together. Make sure to lather in between your fingers, and on the backs of your hands too. Everything from your fingertips to your wrists should be covered.
Step 3: Don’t rush
You should be lathering soap for at least 20 seconds if you want to wash your hands thoroughly enough to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. One trick is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. People will ask you why you’re celebrating someone’s birthday in a bathroom, and you can use this conversation starter to teach them how to wash their hands properly, too.
Step 4: Finish up
Rinse off the excess soap and dry your hands. There’s a myth circulating that hand dryers will somehow kill the coronavirus on your hands. This is bullshit, according to the World Health Organisation. That being said, drying with paper towels is just good practice as it helps remove excess bacteria from your hands. You’re now good to go!
What about hand sanitiser?
Hand sanitiser is an excellent alternative for those on the go. Like regular soap, make sure to lather it everywhere for a good 20 seconds. Another thing to look out for is the alcohol content – anything above 60% should do the trick.
A few things, actually. While hand-washing technique is important, it’s also good to practice better hygiene in general. Cough into your elbow rather than your hand, which might transfer the germs to other surfaces. The World Health Organisation is also suggesting alternatives to handshakes and hugs, such as the footshake or a nice old pat on the back. They have a few other tips on their website for good measure.
Worried about coming across as rude or antisocial for being hygienic? Follow the example of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. When she went to shake a colleague’s hand in Berlin yesterday, he snubbed her. Rather than take offence, she laughed and replied: “that was the right thing to do.”
No more #handshakes?
"That was the right thing to do," said Merkel afterwards. pic.twitter.com/oYySpPU6GS
— DW Politics (@dw_politics) March 2, 2020