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Hey, I am a med student who likes to write. Each week I provide a handful of tips that will help you in your quest to become healthier.

How to Keep Your Hands Clean Besides Cleaning Them

Written: 11/22/2007



Washing your hands is the most basic form of hygiene, necessary to prevent transmission of diseases. But do you know that you can get more germs after you have dried your hands in hot air?

Learn the art of properly cleaning your hands.


  • Prevention is better than cure.
    To prevent the little diseases and infections that trouble us in our everyday life, prevention is very important, namely for hygiene issues. Be it viral infections or bacteria, they are transmitted from person to person via your hands. You open the tap with your hands, you shake hands, you grab objects with your hands, you rub your face and eyes with your hands. Try this little experiment one day. Note down the objects your hands come into contact with and you'll be astonished to note that in only one day, you may have touched more than 100 objects. A little experiment carried out by my friends and I estimated the number of objects touched on average in 1 hour is about 30. Most of the time, you are unaware that you are touching these objects. It is routine for you. So next time, before touching something, make sure the object is clean first. If it is not, wash your hands properly immediately after touching it.

  • Wash your hands properly
    But how? You think that just by using some soap and running your hands under water, it is enough? Not necessarily. Most people wash their hands without using soap in the first instance. And also the "Intitut national de Prévention et d'Education pour la Santé (INPES)" in France or the "National Institute of Prevention and Education of Health" recommends a minimum of 30 seconds when you wash your hands, after having rubbed properly between the fingers and under your nails with soap and hot water.

  • Dry your hands properly.
    Believe or not, you actually get more germs when drying your hands with hot air after you have washed them properly. It is better to wipe your hands clean with a towel, provided the towel is clean and dry. Else, if the towel is wet or unclean, you'll just catch the germs you have just washed away.

  • Develop the washing reflex.
    Before starting to cook food, before playing with your baby, when returning from work, before washing your face, one reflex only: Wash your hands. For example a disease known as bronchiolitis can be avoided simply by washing your hands every time before you hold your baby.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using public facilities.
    Washing your hands after having used public transportation or public toilets can seem obvious but not everybody does this. INPES (National Institute of Prevention and Education of Health) estimates that only 53% of women and 39% of men wash their hands after having used public transportation. When you know that 71.6% of people who are ill travel about on public transportation, imagine the risk of getting infected yourself if you do not adhere to a hygienic lifestyle.

  • Develop a cleaning routine.
    Microbes are everywhere, on your phone, keyboard, mouse and even in your pockets. A mobile phone has at least 20 900 microbres per cm2. These are objects which are not cleaned on a frequent basis. Microbes are invisible to the human eye and you must not wait for the objects to be stained to clean them. You must clean every object you come into contact with daily at least twice per week. Here is a little statistics which I hope won't scare you. Your workstation has about 3 249 bacteria per cm2 compared to toilet seats which contain only 8 bacteria per cm2.

  • Always keep some hand wipes on you.
    Most people laugh at Mr. Monk's habit of cleaning his hands after shaking hands but he is actually right. Most people do not clean their hands because they have got nothing to clean their hands with. To be prepared for any situations, always keep some hand wipes handy. Wipe your hands discreetly after having touched any objects used by many people.
Although the advices above may actually look like going over the borderline, it's better to be safe than sorry in the case of your health.

Reference: The statistics come from INPES.


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