Picture: Oscar Siagan/Getty Images for Unilever
Picture: Oscar Siagan/Getty Images for Unilever

There's probably more to washing your hands clean than you thought there was.

A study has found that one of the most common techniques for applying soap, as recommended and described by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is actually less successful than the method the World Health Organisation uses.

Here's the (less effective) CDC advice:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.

  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

And here's the (more effective) WHO advice:

A study, published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology found that although the WHO method takes longer (42.5 seconds compared to 35), it is significantly more effective in reducing the average amount of bacteria on hands.

Lead author on the study, Jacqui Reilly of the Glasgow Caledonian University, said the devil was in the detail:

The difference between them is that the WHO guidance gives you six maneuvers to do, instead of just saying, ‘apply it all over your hands,’.

The study concluded:

These international guidance documents should consider this evidence, as should healthcare organizations using the 3-step technique in practice.

So now you know.

Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)