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These Hand-Washing Mistakes Could Increase COVID-19 Risk

April 29, 2020

We’ve been washing our hands – to varying degrees of effectiveness – since gathering around the foot-pumped sinks in kindergarten, but at a time where it provides crucial protection against a deadly virus, could we be doing it better?

There are a few basic mistakes many make when hand-washing, which could increase the risk for infection by the COVID-19 virus. It’s time to rethink your methods for the optimal results.

Common hand washing mistakes include:

  • Not washing often enough. You should be using soap and water many times a day to scrub the germs off your hands. You’re touching items in the home, car, supermarket and even on your daily walk. Always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, after handling the trash and after you’ve been in a public place. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is good in a pinch but soap and water is the best option.
  • Not washing long enough. If you don’t already, try singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. At 20 seconds, it’s longer than you think but that’s how long you need to effectively scrub germs away.
  • Not lathering up enough. Don’t skimp on the soap at the sink. If you use liquid soap, give yourself a squirt the size of a quarter and rub your hands together vigorously. The friction helps slough off germs.
  • Not washing your entire hand. Your fingertips and palms are only part of the hand. Turn each one over and wash the backs. Get between your fingers and under your fingernails. Use a nail brush if you have one.
  • Not rinsing long enough. Once you scrub the germs off your skin, you need to rinse them down the drain. Keep them under the clean running water for a few extra seconds.
  • Not drying them well. Moisture actually makes it easier for your hands to transfer germs to other surfaces so be sure to dry them well after washing. The actual process of rubbing the towel over your hands is an added help for removing any lingering germs.

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

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