BOSTON — Washing your hands is a simple task that we should be doing multiple times a day to protect ourselves against COVID-19, popularly known as coronavirus.
But have you ever thought to time yourself while washing? Doctors say you should try it out, and you may want to spend a little more time under the water.
“I think it’s more important than ever that we’re vigilant about cleaning our hands,” said Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Health.
By now, we know the most effective way to help curb the spread of the virus is by practicing good hygiene by washing your hands.
But it turns out, you could be doing a sloppy job at cleaning up.
“You want to make sure you get a nice lather, notice that I’m hitting every spot on my hand,” said Ellerin, who uses the term “mechanical” handwashing.
He says we can all practice his method by spending at least 20 seconds carefully washing the fingers and the nails.
“We want to do more than just a quick, cursory wash. And then dry. Because the 20 seconds is important. Part of what’s important about this is the mechanical cleansing. You’re mechanically removing the bacteria or in this case viral particles,” Ellerin said.
Ellerin spent a whopping 38 seconds cleaning his hands.
“It is a commitment, it’s a time commitment, 38 seconds… it may seem like it’s short but when you’re actually doing it like this, when we’re rushing around it’s very easy to wash your hands for less than 30 seconds, so at some point we’ve all been guilty of this, including myself,” Ellerin said. “We just have to remember it’s a sensitive time and we just have to be really careful and vigilant.”
The doctor says both hot or cold water will do.
Anti-bacterial, liquid or bar soap will all do the trick.
It’s OK to touch the faucet with your hand after washing.
Paper towels, cloth towels or air dryers are all fine, as long as you dry thoroughly.
And of course, if you’re not near a sink, anti-bacterial hand gel is encouraged as long as it contains 60 percent alcohol.
And like we teach our kids, if you sing “Happy Birthday” twice, that will equal out to 20 seconds, or if you can simply count, that works, too.
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