Why You Should Care About Hand Hygiene

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin

The term “hand hygiene” should be quite familiar to you. Whether you are a cook at McDonalds or a Intensive Care Nurse, hand hygiene is regarded as a critical component in infection control and prevention of cross contamination.

There is even an entire day dedicated to it. While some know May 5th as “Cinco do Mayo”,  it is also  World Hand Hygiene Day!

The WHO considers proper hand hygiene protocols to be the most important measure in preventing hospital acquired infections.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention; on any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.

Washing your hands is critical, but if you use your clean hands to touch a dirty surface, you have just contaminated your hands.

So, what can you do to keep your hands cleaner for longer? Here are a few tips and things to look out for:

Fist Bumping

Move over handshaking. You’re out, and fist bumping is in.

Just this month, a UCLA hospital began testing a “hand shaking free” zone to mitigate the spread of harmful bacteria that is spread through hand-to-hand contact. According to Harvard Health, shaking hands transmitted two more times the bacteria than fist bumping. BUT, the best way to mitigate the spread of germs and bacteria will continue to be washing your hands.

Either way, you may want to take a page from the book of America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel and make fist bumping your new greeting.

Phones and Other Devices

According to a study, cellphones contain 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat (take a minute if you need to after reading that… I know I did). And this is just one of the many types of bacteria that can live on your phone. In hospitals, these bugs often include superbugs like MRSA.

To add fuel to the fire, bacteria survive longer on warm surfaces, such as the screen of your phone or tablet. Other surfaces to watch out for are gas pump handles and ATM buttons – but none are touched nearly as often as your cell phone.

To ensure you keep your hands free of bacteria, make sure to disinfect your smartphone or tablet as often as possible using UV light. You won’t regret it.

The Takeaway

If it isn’t obvious already: wash your hands. How long should you wash them for? Singing the “happy-birthday song” two times in a row seems to be the golden standard. There’s also this handy infographic.


Figure: Pictorial depiction showing how to hand wash

It’s sometimes difficult to believe that hand washing can be so critical, but it is. Study after study confirms a strong association between hand hygiene and HAI reductions. Plus, cleaning your phone and tablet can help ensure that clean hands stay that way.

The ROI on washing your hands – for your health, and the health of people around you – is huge.

Ensuring your hands are clean and rid of bacteria will not only keep you safe, but will ensure the safety of your friends, colleagues and family members.

-The CleanSlate UV Team

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