Your Complete Hand Hygiene Resource
Hand hygiene has gone from something your mother used to nag you about when you were little to a major issue at the forefront of our minds. Many people still do not properly practice hand hygiene and could still be at risk for contamination from microorganisms. Proper hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to protect yourself from getting sick during the pandemic, and the upcoming cold and flu seasons.
When to Wash Your Hands
You should wash your hands numerous times a day, and after participating in many of the activities that you go about daily. Some of the most important times to wash your hands are:
- Before preparing food.
- During food preparation after touching raw meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, or before switching from one of these foods to fruits or vegetables.
- After Preparing food.
- Before eating your food.
- Before and after caring for anyone who is ill.
- Before and after treating an open injury.
- Before touching any part of your face.
- After using the bathroom.
- After changing diapers or cleaning up after a child.
- After handling garbage or taking out the trash.
- After petting or handling your pets.
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- After touching a heavily used public surface.
How to Wash Your Hands
Proper hand washing technique is crucial to remove microorganisms from your hands and prevent you from getting sick. Having clean hands also helps others stay safe because it reduces the transmission of diseases onto surfaces. The proper hand washing technique is as follows:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
- Running water is important because if the water is allowed to sit still, microorganisms can
begin to accumulate. Water temperature is not important when washing your hands, but
warmer water can irritate the skin and is less environmentally friendly. Soap is important
because it separates microorganisms from the skin and encourages the user to scrub their
hands for a longer duration.
- Lather soap on your hands, but don’t forget the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrubbing increases friction which is important for removing germs.
- Scrub your hands for at least twenty seconds.
- This time frame largely relies on how much dirt is on your hands. If your hands are still visibly
dirty, more than twenty seconds may be required. A helpful hint is to hum Happy Birthday
twice while washing your hands. If you are sick of Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
can be substituted.
- Rinse hands well under running water.
- Soap and friction help lift the microorganisms off of your hands, but the water is what removes
these from your hands.
- Dry hands with a clean towel, paper towel, or air dry them.
- According to the National Institute of Health, germs can be transferred more easily from a wet
surface to a wet surface. Drying your hands reduces the ease at which germs can make their
way back onto them.
When to use an alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are very important tools to use in your hand-hygiene battle. The alcohol works as a solid substitute to kill germs when soap and water are not available. Additionally, the use of hand sanitizer may be more effective than improper hand washing.
The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to effectively neutralize the viruses or bacteria that could be on your hands. Their findings are based on numerous studies that back up that the 60% alcohol level is the minimum acceptable level to eliminate microbes properly.
Using hand sanitizer is not meant to replace soap and water, but sometimes using soap and water isn’t practical or not available. If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy, you should attempt to find soap and water because hand sanitizer does not clean hands; it is only meant to kill the germs.
Foam Hand Sanitizers
Another popular form of sanitizer, foam, is liked by many people; it clings to the hands and does not slide around as the gel sanitizers do. The more sanitizer that you can keep on your hands, the more effective that it becomes. Additionally, some studies have concluded that foam sanitizers might be slightly more effective at killing germs than their gel counterparts.
Gel Hand Sanitizer
The most widely available form of hand sanitizer, these sanitizers have been available for a long time and are used by most people. Almost everyone knows how to apply them properly, and if they are over the CDC’s recommended alcohol level, they kill germs very well. Gels are easy to spread around your hands and get under your fingertips due to their composition.
Spray Hand Sanitizer
These sanitizers are liquid-based and are sprayed onto your hands. They work like gel and foam sanitizers, except the liquid allows them to slip through your fingers and slide off your hands. Some of these hand sanitizers contain extremely high alcohol levels that can dry out hands and cause irritation.
Considerations for Choosing a Hand Sanitizer
Recently, the FDA has realized that some hand sanitizers contain chemicals that are harmful to humans. They have begun recalling hand sanitizers containing chemical methanol instead of the normal ethyl alcohol or ethanol. This chemical can cause blindness and hospitalizations if absorbed through the skin, and if ingested, can cause death. These companies are taking advantage of hand sanitizer's need by using these dangerous chemicals in their products. The full list of products that the FDA advises against can be found here.
To ensure your hand sanitizer is safe, you should make sure that it does not contain methanol and complies with FDA guidelines. Additionally, the FDA cautions against making your hand sanitizer because it could become contaminated in a non-sterile environment and if done wrong is potentially dangerous.
Plain Hand Soap
Plain soap can be liquid or in bar form. Soap helps lift microbes off of your hands so you can effectively wash them away. Plain soap can be found in liquid or bar form, but the liquid is more effective for cleaning your hands since it can easily be spread around. Additionally, liquid soaps do not spread germs from person to person as bar soaps can. Anyone should use plain soaps outside of a medical environment because antimicrobial soaps are not proven to prevent infections better than plain soaps outside of medical environments.
Antibacterial Hand Soap
Antibacterial/Antimicrobial soaps contain chemicals that are not found in regular hand soaps. These elements are added to kill bacteria and reduce the spread of infection. However, there is not enough evidence that these products provide added benefits, so the FDA does not advocate for purchasing them in non-healthcare environments.
Due to the high demand for hand hygiene products, it has never been harder to source these important products. At Nickel City Innovations, we are committed to providing items your business or organization needs to keep your personnel protected. We are committed to meeting our customer's needs and forming relationships to ensure that we can help keep you safe.
Safetec Instant Hand Sanitizer
Safetec’s Instant Hand Sanitizer is formulated with a moisturizing agent to condition and preserve skin’s health while preventing the spread of germ, causing illnesses and infections. Their formula contains 66.5% ethyl alcohol and kills 99.9% of widespread germs. It is scented with a pleasant fresh fragrance and exceeds the 60% alcohol that the CDC recommends using to prevent the spread of illness in the absence of soap and water.
P.A.W.S. Hand Sanitizer Wipes
P.A.W.S.® Hand Sanitizing Wipes are crafted with 66.5% ethyl-alcohol to kill 99.99% of widespread germs. They contain aloe vera to keep your skin feeling smooth all day long. They also remove debris and soil from hands and under fingernails, an important function in the absence of soap and water.
SaniWash Antimicrobial Soap
Safetec’s SaniWash® Antimicrobial Hand Soap is a colorless soap with a mild pleasant fragrance. It uses PCMX for antimicrobial action and contains aloe vera for added moisture with each use. The soap helps reduce the risk of cross-contamination while helping meet APIC and OSHA hand washing recommendations.
Our experts understand that this is a difficult time for many businesses and are here to assist you in sourcing the products you need to reopen safely. If you have questions about what products your organization needs to keep your employees safe, or want to discuss how Nickel City can be the solution to your infection control problems, head over here now for a free consultation!