October 15th is Global Hand Washing Day

Most of you must be knowing that today (October 15th) is Global Hand Washing Day. As for me, I am very particular about washing my hands.

I normally use  Dettol handwash or Dettol antibacterial soap every now and then to clean my hands thoroughly.

It's not really necessary to use an antibacterial soap, even an ordinary soap will do, as recent research has found that antibacterial soaps offer no more protection than good ol' fashioned soap and water.

But for those of you who do not think that washing hands isn't that important, read this:

Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year.

Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.

The promotion of handwashing with soap is also a key strategy for controlling the spread of the H1N1 virus and other deadly viruses.
Here are some more resources that tell you why you should wash your hands too often:


When to wash your hands

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are the times when you should wash your  hands to help prevent the spread of germs and viruses:
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

The right way of cleaning your hands:

wash & dry hands

  1. Turn on water, preferably to a warm, comfortable temperature.
  2. Use approximately a dime sized squirt of liquid hand soap (or according to manufacturer's instructions).
  3. Lather and rub hands together for at least 20 seconds (Sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice).
  4. Be sure to wash well between fingers and under nails, although using a nail brush is not necessary.
  5. Rinse all soap off hands.
  6. Using two paper towels, dry hands completely.
  7. Turn off faucet with paper towels, then discard towels in garbage can. More...

When to use hand sanitizer?

Hand washing with soap and water thoroughly is the best to get rid of dirt and germs from your hand. However, it's not always possible to get soap and clean water; during such times using a hand sanitizer is recommended. 

For an hand sanitizer to be effective, it  must be alcohol-based and contain at least 60% alcohol.

But hand sanitizing products should not take the place of good hand washing with soap and water; they have been shown to be less effective. In certain cases however, they are much better than using nothing. 

If you have soiled your hands; if its full of dirt and grime, hand sanitizes are extremely ineffective. You should look out for washing your hands at the first opportunity in that case.

Although a hand sanitizer can kill more than 60 percent of germs and thorough hand washing more than 90 percent of germs on your hand, most people actually contract flu from airborne agents, by breathing in the germs.

For instance, being in close contact with a person with cold or flu and when he  /she sneezes or coughs at close proximity into your face.

So even if you've used a sanitizing product or washed your hands properly with soap and water, and your hands are clean and germ-free, you can still catch or spread the virus.

However sanitized or cleanly washed hands are not just a potent preventive mechanism for gastrointestinal diseases, but also infections such as the cold or flu to a great extent.

What to do when I run out of soap or sanitizer and have no means of buying one?

If you don't have a soap, a liquid hand wash or a sanitizer, fret not! Especially, when you run out of essential commodities and have no means of buying it, you don't have to hit that panic button!

Just make do with whatever you have in your house; a minimalist approach in this matter will help you more than anxiety and panic!

Read No soap, hand wash or sanitizer at home? Then try these alternatives for clean, germ-free hands.

Clean the nails too for complete hand hygiene

Agreed, washing your hands is the first line of defense against all kinds of nasty germs. But do you wash under your fingernails?

The space under the fingernails, also called the subungual region harbours dirt and hence lots of bacteria and other germs. This is because of the space between the skin and nail creates a perfect moist environment for the growth and thriving of these tiny lifeforms.

According to CDC, appropriate hand hygiene includes diligently cleaning and trimming fingernails.Fingernails should be kept short, and the undersides should be cleaned frequently with soap and water.

Longer fingernails as well as artificial nails harbor more dirt and bacteria than short nails, thus potentially contributing to the spread of infection.

Painted fingernails, artificial or natural could also pose some problems with complete hand hygeine s per a study.

The fear with polish is that tiny chips or cracks in the paint could harbour bacteria. While freshly polished nails were found to be safe, those which were more than 4 days older had more bacteria.

Keeping nails short and clean is probably more important than whether or not nail polish is worn, the researchers of the study concluded. However, if the polish gets chipped and faded after a few days, remove it with a nail polish remover or apply afresh.

To help prevent the spread of germs and nail infections, CDC recommends:


On a Final Hand Hygiene Note:

In addition to proper handwashing, you should pay special attention to the area beneath your fingernails when washing your hands, and for the least bacterially hospitable fingertips, keep the nails short and clean. Then only your handwashing is complete.

Further reading:

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  1. Suman5:33 PM

    There are germs n all and one should wash the hands properly

  2. Vidya5:34 PM

    I do that too.Just remember, your body has an immune system and it can fight off most germs whether or not you use all that soap/sanitizer. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, before you eat, after taking out the garbage, after you touch something dirty is fine - but it's probably not necessary EVERY SINGLE TIME you touch someone else's keyboard, or run an errand.

  3. Anonymous5:36 PM

    Sanitizer is bad for you, but washing your hands that often is not. Its normal. my moms like that too. She has to wash her hands, because she doesn't like them being germy (shes not ocd or anything, but would you eat or touch your mouth after petting the dog?) I do the same thing but w/o the sanitizer. Its called health and hygiene

  4. Sonali5:41 PM

    One should wash hands after returning from toilets. One must be particular in washing hands before eating anything since the germs on the hands may easily go into the stomach with the eatable if the hands are not clean. Invariably we touch the eatable by our bare hands- unknowingly.
    Lately, important precautions for avoiding 'Swine flu' includes - washing hands to keep away the germs

  5. unknown5:43 PM

    Washing one's hand can be a mini sacrament.

  6. Jagesh5:48 PM

    When cooking I wash my hands at least ten times to avoid cross contamination and I'm not ocd. I wash my hands everytime I touch raw meat or after touching a door handle when I'm about to touch clean plates or food etc.

  7. yes ! we wrote about it as well. wash your hands with soap, kids: http://fashionableearth.org/blog/2009/10/15/global-handwashing-day/

  8. Anonymous10:45 AM

    To wash hands properly, rub all parts of the hands and wrists with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Wash hands for at least 15 seconds or more. Pay special attention to fingertips, between fingers, backs of hands and base of the thumbs.
    • Keep nails short
    • Wash wrists and forearms if they are likely to have
    • Remove watches, rings and bracelets been contaminated
    • Do not use artificial nails
    • Make sure that sleeves are rolled up and do not get
    • Avoid chipped nail varnish wet during washing

    1 Use 1 or 2 squirts of liquid or foam soap.
    2 Lather soap and scrub hands well, palm to palm.
    3 Scrub in between and around fingers.
    4 Scrub back of each hand with palm of other hand.
    5 Scrub fingertips of each hand in opposite palm.
    6 Scrub each thumb clasped in opposite hand.
    7 Scrub each wrist clasped in opposite hand.
    8 Rinse thoroughly under running water.
    9 Pat hands dry with paper towel.
    10 Turn off water using same paper towel.


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