It’s generally acknowledged that hand washing is an effective protection against germs. That being said, in the hustle and bustle of a busy day, basic hand hygiene can be neglected. Here’s a recap of good habits to teach your little ones to help you avoid the headaches of colds and flus.
1. Wash your hands as often as possible
Adopt the habit of washing your hands whenever you can. For example, each time you arrive somewhere (home, work, school, etc.) and after each activity you do in the course of a day (preparing food, eating, playing outside, changing a diaper, working on the computer, etc.). It’s also really important to wash your hands after using the bathroom, after blowing your nose, sneezing or touching an animal.
2. No jewellery
Take off your jewellery when you wash your hands. Your rings and bracelets are good hiding places for germs and bacteria.
Just washing your hands with soap won’t take care of all the germs. It’s the scrubbing that will really get them off your hands, so use a little elbow grease!
4. Count to 30
Thirty seconds (or the time it takes to sing a nursery rhyme): that’s how long you should scrub your hands, between your fingers (all the way down to the base), your wrists and your forearms before rinsing thoroughly with running water.
5. Remember the nails
Don’t forget to scrub under the nails, especially if they are long. In fact, if you work in a daycare or a school, it’s recommended to keep your nails as short as possible.
6. Clean the cleanser
The soap itself and even the liquid soap dispenser can be haven for bacteria, because we touch them with our dirty hands. Take a few seconds to clean them after you’ve washed your hands.
7. Keep germs away
Use a towel or your sleeve to turn off the taps and dry your hands with a clean towel or a hand dryer to keep your clean hands free of germs for at least a little while.
8. Spread the word, not the germs
Preventing germs and bacteria from spreading is everyone’s business. Share these good habits with everyone around you and get kids into the hand-washing habit by teaching them the proper technique when they’re young.
Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions or need advice on the subject.
What about antibacterial gel?
In general, antibacterial gels eliminate many germs, including most bacteria and viruses, but tend not to provide adequate protection against more aggressive types of bacteria like salmonella or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Hydroalcoholic gels, a mixture of water and alcohol (at least 60%), like the ones used in hospitals, are more effective.
Keep in mind that gels will not be effective if your hands are very dirty from cooking or gardening. The only truly effective way to get rid of dirt is a good hand washing with soap and water.
You can always ask your pharmacist to recommend the best antibacterial gel.