Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, please wash your hands extremely frequently), you likely already know that frequently and thoroughly washing your hands – and encouraging others to do the same – is one of the best ways to keep yourself and your community healthy. Because we use our hands for everything from eating and preparing food to changing diapers and petting dogs, germs often travel from place to place on our fingers. By simply washing your hands with soap and water, you can drastically reduce the likelihood that dangerous germs will infect you or the people around you. As there are key times when you’re more likely to spread germs, it’s important to learn when to wash your hands as well.
When to Wash Your Hands
Before Eating or Handling Food
If you’re preparing a meal or eating food, any germs you’ve come into contact with prior to that may end up on your food. When you put the food in your mouth, you’re putting germs directly into your body. For this reason, it’s especially important to wash your hands thoroughly if you’re preparing food for other people. A germ-covered chef could infect an entire restaurant of people.
After Using the Bathroom or Changing a Diaper
Feces carry dangerous germs, including Salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a single gram of human feces (which weighs about the same as a paper clip) contains one trillion germs! Whether you’re going #1 or #2, or changing an infant’s diaper, always wash your hands afterward.
After Blowing Your Nose, Coughing, Sneezing
Experts believe that when you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose, you release tiny droplets contaminated with germs into the air, where they can be inhaled by people up to approximately 6 feet away. Even if you don’t feel sick, it’s important to be cautious; you can be infected with a virus like the flu and show no symptoms but still be contagious to others. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. If that’s not possible, cover your face with your sleeve (not your hands). Whichever method you use, be sure to wash your hands afterward.
After Handling Trash
You don’t need us to tell you that trash is covered in germs, but did you know that garbage smells are generated by the growth of bacteria? Yuck. So after you take out the trash, change the liner in your trash can, or put something filthy in a trash can, scrub your hands thoroughly.
After Touching Animals or Handling Animal Waste
Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that spread between animals and people, causing sickness or even death. They are caused by harmful germs – viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, etc. – and they’re very common. In fact, “Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people are spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals” (source). Whether you’re playing with your cats, petting a goat at the zoo, or picking up after your dog with a plastic bag, wash your hands afterward.
Before and After Visiting a Hospital
If you’ve spent a fair amount of time in hospitals or other medical settings, you’ve likely seen first-hand the way medical organizations emphasize hand hygiene. They offer hand sanitizer at every turn and the employees are constantly rolling up their sleeves to wash their hands. According to the CDC, healthcare providers may need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift! Whether you’re a hospital visitor, patient, or staff member, wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs.
Before and After Touching a Sick Person or Someone with a Weak Immune System
Many people have weakened (or still developing) immune systems, including infants, people with immune system disorders (such as SCID and AIDS), and people with some underlying medical conditions (such as cancer, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and alcoholism). When the immune system lacks the strength to defend the body against disease-causing microorganisms, germs are more likely to successfully invade the body and make the person sick. So whenever you’re around someone who’s sick or suffers from a weak immune system, keep their health in mind and wash your hands before and after the interaction.
Be sure that every time you wash your hands you use proper hand-washing technique:
- Wet your hands with warm running water.
- Apply disinfectant soap and vigorously lather for 20 seconds or more.
- Scrub all the surfaces of your hands, from your fingernails to your wrists.
- Rinse your hands and dry them with a clean towel (or let them air dry).
- If possible, avoid touching the faucet and any doorknobs after you’ve washed your hands. Use a paper towel to touch them if you can.
Finally, remember that in situations where you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good substitute for hand washing. Use an alcohol-free hand sanitizer to ensure that your skin doesn’t dry out and become cracked or chapped, which may allow germs to penetrate the exterior of the skin. Turn to SafeSpace if you’re looking for a safe, effective hand sanitizer.
The SafeSpace Company is a family-owned small business proudly selling American-made Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers to keep you safe and healthy. To keep germs at bay year-round, stock up on germ-fighting essentials like the original SafeSpace® Disinfectant & Deodorizing Germ Fogger (since 2005). You might also be interested in our Germ Fighter Kit, which includes our Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer, Germ Fogger, and Auto Disinfecting & Deodorizing Mist. For more information about SafeSpace, contact us online or call us toll-free at 1-800-735-2506.
Copyright SafeSpace Company 2019