Everyone knows washing your hands is important, but fewer know the reasons why.
Your mother told you to do it, your teacher told you to do it, your work has policies and posts signs about doing it and social media even has graphic messages about doing it, still many do not do it or do it wrong. Handwashing is the single most important action that each of us can do to prevent the spread of germs and disease.
Repeatedly, studies show that the majority of people are not washing their hands, or not washing them properly. An interesting study conducted by United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) observed people in a test kitchen and reported that only three percent of participants washed their hands when they should have. In another study, only 35 percent of people washed their hands before starting meal preparation.
Handwashing is important with meal preparation and before eating because it is the mode of transmission for many illnesses, such as the common cold. Hand to mouth contact is one way that these germs make it into our body. Many studies shows that by following proper handwashing procedures, we can greatly reduce the number of bacteria on our hands, which then reduces the risk of getting sick.
Ask anyone how long we are supposed to wash hands for and the answers will vary. The fact is, 20 seconds is all the handwash procedure should take. The following are the steps that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as many other regulating agencies, recommend:
MSU Extension recommends washing hands frequently, and it is not just for after you go to the bathroom or before you prep food, essentially anytime that you re-contaminate your hands, you need to wash them. Especially wash your hands when you are in a situation where you could transfer these germs, such as prepping food. The following examples are important triggers to wash your hands:
This list could go on and on, so it is up to you to use good judgement. To prevent yourself from consuming germs that may have originated from poop, blood, snot or spit (because ultimately – this is what you may be consuming), wash your hands.