Global Handwashing Day: 3 Things You Need to Know About Handwashing

It sounds simple, but washing your hands is one of the most effective steps you can take to stay healthy, keeping your germs to yourself and preventing others’ germs from infecting you.

Soap and clean water go hand-in-hand. What makes handwashing effective is that it mechanically removes the germs from our skin. Washing our hands with water may rinse dirt away, but germs are so tiny that they need soap to work its magic. This is because scrubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds will allow its molecules to penetrate and break down bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus.

Sanitizers may not be as effective with visibly dirty hands. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. However, if hands are visibly greasy or soiled — like after changing tires or working in the garden — these may not work well, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Handwashing with soap and water are more recommended in such instances.

Teaching others about handwashing will help you and your community stay healthy. Studies show that handwashing education in the community reduces respiratory illnesses like colds by 16-21%. Taking part in educational sessions and celebrations such as the Global Handwashing Day on October 15 can go a long way!