Why Wash Your Hands?
21 February 2020 MedicAlert

It can be difficult to tell how clean your hands really are, after all we can't see bacteria like when we get mud on our hands! Even if you can't see it, we tend to have around 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of skin on our hands. Don't worry, not all of these bacteria are bad, some of it even helps your body fight off the bad bacteria. Bacteria are also used to start the cheesemaking process by being added to milk, so I certainly can't do without it!

Cleaning our hands properly is the best way to reduce the amount of bacteria. According to a study conducted in 20111, washing your hands with water alone can reduce the presence of bacteria to 23%, whilst washing with soap as well reduces this to only 8% of the original bacteria levels. 

It is as important to dry your hands properly as it is to wash them. Your hands spread 1000 times more germs when they are damp than when they are fully dry. When away from home, single use paper towels are the most effective option to dry your hands. Not only can paper towels dry hands better and quicker than a hand dryer (that takes on average 43 seconds to get your hands only 95% dry), paper towels also reduce the bacteria on your hands due to the friction generated.

How should you wash your hands?

Hand washing diagram  

Washing your hands properly takes as long as singing happy birthday twice through, when using the guide above2. Make sure you clean your hands regularly with water and soap and remember to dry them thoroughly. If you don't have immediate access to soap and water then you can also use an alcohol based hand sanitiser.

If you want to save yourself from singing the overly catchy 'happy birthday', then watch the video below to learn a catchier song to sing along to when washing your hands.

More than just your hands...

Make sure that when you're washing your hands you don't forget to wash underneath your MedicAlert ID bracelet and every once in a while, make sure to clean your MedicAlert jewellery too. To find out exactly how to clean certain materials, follow our jewellery care guide here.

While colds and other viruses are spreading, it is even more important for medical professionals to know about your hidden or underlying medical conditions that may affect how your body copes with any bugs. If you don't already wear a MedicAlert ID, join today to benefit from our charity’s lifesaving service! 


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1 The effect of handwashing with water or soap

2 Save lives: clean your hands

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