With everything we know about the coronavirus so far, it has become painstakingly obvious that sterilization is the key to fight it. Studies show that face masks might actually increase the risk of infection, and there isn’t a vaccine completed yet. This leaves maintaining proper hygiene practices to protect yourself and the people around you. And good hygiene practices happen through “proper” hand washing.
Let’s start with some basic questions: How often do you wash your hands? How long does it take? Are you prone to giving your hands a drizzle of water and calling it a day? Or maybe, you don't believe in bacteria and microbes and go about your day like a bacteria-person.
A study done by Michigan State University shows that only 36% of men and 61% of women wash their hands after using the bathroom. Moreover, it seems like only 5% of people properly wash their hands.
You might be thinking that you sloppily rubbing your palms across each other for 5 seconds counts as proper handwashing; however, that is actually far from the truth.
"Rinse and Shake": Does it work?
A Daily Mail author made a shocking experiment to see the effectiveness of different hand-washing techniques. In order to do that, the author applied “Glo Germ” onto her hands, which simulates bacteria clinging to your skin.
This is how the gel works: the whiter the hands in these pictures are, the dirtier they are. The darker they are, the cleaner.
As you can see, the regular “rinse and shake” technique many people rely on is no different than not washing your hands. The glowing of the bacteria starts to dim only after the fifteen-second mark.
This is crucially important since fecal bacteria on hands is really common. Dr. Val Curtis, an expert in hygiene and public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, states, “We did a study of commuters around England and found that 28% had [fecal bacteria] on their hands.”
Did you know that the coronavirus can spread through poop? Well, the more you know.
So, how should you wash your hands?
Today is the day to forget about your old habits and form new ones. Regardless of how you did it before this moment, here is a very straightforward tutorial by the World Health Organization on how to wash your hands.
Pro tip: Sing “Happy Birthday Interesting Engineering” twice while washing your hands which will take you 20 seconds. It is the recommended number by numerous health organizations.
Now that you’ve learned the proper way to wash your hands, you might be thinking that you are in the clear. Sadly, as you’d guess, the hygiene practices of the people around you matter too.
Citizens of the World: Unite and wash your hands
This 2015 survey conducted by WIN/Gallup International in 63 countries shows the hand-washing habits of people in Europe.
According to the statistics, Bosnia & Herzegovina is the first on the list with 96% of people regularly washing their hands. The Dutch, however, are the least likely to wash their hands with soap and water after using the toilet with a jarring 50%.
We should state that you should always think twice before shaking hands with anyone on a normal day; however, according to the results of the study, you might want to only wave at your Dutch friend from afar, from now on.
We are joking of course – there is also the probability of only the Dutch being honest about their habits...
While done in 2015, the survey still gives some insight into the hygiene practices of world citizens. Communities are only as good as their weakest links, and we shouldn't forget that some outbreaks can be stopped before they turn into massive global pandemics with such simple and effective solutions.
The bottom line is this: Don’t be gross, and please wash your damn hands!