Washing your hand to protect against COVID19
COVID19 – Are you washing your hands properly?
A respiratory virus like COVID-19 can only spread when droplets or mucus containing it enters your body through the eyes, nose or throat. And it so happens that an easy transfer medium for the virus are your hands.
Proper hand washing, therefore, remains the most effective method for curbing the spread of COVID-19 because it works and its good common sense. If soap is available – great – otherwise your next best option is a quality alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
In this piece, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about washing your hands properly in order to avoid getting Coronavirus or spreading it to others through physical contact.
What’s the best way to wash my hands?
While we are typically used to giving our hands a quick scrub and rinse under normal circumstances – wiping off traces of a contagious virus is by no means ‘normal’. We recommend following these steps:
- Place your hands under running tap water and wet them thoroughly
- Apply a generous amount of soap so that your entire hand is covered
- Scrub hands together to form a thick lather
- Now scrub each surface of both hands – this means between the fingers, under the nails, the back of your hands, etc.
- Scrub all surfaces for at least 20 seconds
- Put your hands under running tap water and rinse them thoroughly, ensuring that every last trace of the soap’s lather has been washed off
- Dry your hands with a clean piece of cloth, dry towel or a single-use paper towel
- Ensure that your hands are completely dry to the touch and not damp or moist
Why do I need to wash my hands for 20 seconds?
Many experts, in fact, recommend that you wash them for at least 20-30 seconds and there’s sound logic behind it:
The micro-particles of a respiratory virus like COVID-19 are quite efficient at transferring from medium to medium even with water, soap/hand cleanser and heat in the mix. When you wash your hands for 20-30 seconds – a good way to know is by singing a complete happy birthday song twice – Coronavirus particles are effectively eliminated down to the point where no traces are left.
This may sound cumbersome, but it’s necessary in view of not just public safety but yours as well.
If you’re using a hand sanitizer, then rub it all over your hands from top to bottom, both sides, between the fingers and around the nails – and this should be done for minimum 20 seconds to ensure full surface-to-surface coverage. Just make sure that it contains at least 60% alcohol.
What’s the best time to wash my hands to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
When it comes to preventing COVID-19 from spreading, always make it a habit to wash your hands when you:
- Blow your nose, cough or sneeze – our first instinct is to reach up with our hands so it’s important to give them a thorough wash
- Visit a public place – markets, places of worship, public transportation, libraries, shops, internet cafes, etc.
- Touch a surface or object outside your home (this includes money) because you don’t want to be a carrier and inadvertently bring COVID-19 into your home
- Before and after having meals
- Before and after taking care of the sick or elderly
- Before and after playing with or petting your pets
- After handling any kind of pet food and/or pet treats
- After disposing garbage
- Before and after treating cuts and wounds
- Before and after preparing food, particularly if its raw
- Accidentally shake hands with someone
- Help your young ones use the toilet or change your infant’s diapers
- Anytime your hands appear physically dirty
Common Sensibilities – A Few Things to Keep in Mind at all times
It’s very important that you use clean running water only. No matter what the circumstances, avoid submerging your hands in a bowl of still water or basin. You never know if this water is contaminated with germs as still water is a breeding ground for germs which can often survive and multiply for weeks.
Certain places around your house and toilet are hotspots for Coronavirus germs – toilet flush handles, doorknobs, faucets, etc. So right after you wash your hands, avoid touching these places. Instead, use a paper towel or a scarf, perhaps your sleeve, to protect your freshly cleaned hands against germs.
Hand sanitizer should never be left unattended around children! It’s toxic and can prove fatal if accidently consumed.
There’s no soap around – How can I wash my hands?
While chlorinated water can offer some protection, it’s always best to carry a hand sanitizer with you in such instances – one which contains at least 60% alcohol. It’s also important to know how to apply hand sanitizer properly:
- Apply the gel into the palm of one hand (check the label to see how much you need)
- Rub both your hands together
- Make sure you rub the gel all over your hands – front and back, between the fingers and especially around the fingertips. This will take about 20 seconds.
Even though hand sanitizers are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19, it’s always a good idea to use soap and running water where available. Sanitizers can quickly eliminate most of the germs on your hands but:
- They do not get rid of every type of germs or viruses
- They are not as effective if your hands are already dirty and/or greasy
- They do not remove dangerous chemicals from your hands like heavy metals and pesticides
Additional Tips to prevent the spread of COVID-19
As responsible citizens, it is our moral and ethical obligation to practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette. Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or by bending your elbow to prevent any droplets from landing on surfaces or hovering around in the air. Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands. If you’re out and about, then keep a hand sanitizer with you and use it!
Keep your hands away from your face at all times.
And lastly – maintain a healthy social distance, which means no shaking hands, hugging or kissing.