Are Your Handwashing Efforts as Effective as They Can Be?

Washing Hands In Bathroom

Family Health

June 1, 2023

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Handwashing sounds easy, but it requires more than just anti-bacterial soap. Handwashing needs clean water.

We all know the drill when it comes to COVID-19: Wear a face mask, practice social distancing and, most importantly, wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

Sounds easy, right? It is, yet many Americans do not wash their hand correctly, even though an estimated 80% of communicable diseases are spread by poor hand hygiene.

Habits Improved During Pandemic

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 78% of Americans said they washed their hands six or more times a day. However, by January 2021, that number dropped to 57%. Further, in April 2020, 27% of respondents admitted they “rinse and run” without using soap. In 2021, 48% admitted to doing so.

While a Puronics survey found that 76% of people say handwashing is essential, only 32% admit that they do not always do it after using the restroom. Water alone does not reduce many germs on our hands, but washing with soap does. The soap does not kill the germs; it pulls them when you rinse. Consequently, if you are among the “rinse and run” population, washing your hands with water only is almost like not washing at all.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the good news is that there is a shallow risk of COVID-19 being in your water and transferring to your hands. That is especially true with municipal water supplies, generally treated to reduce contaminants. Texas A&M University found that coagulation, used in treating public water supplies, could reduce 99.999% of the novel coronavirus if it did appear in the water supply.

But both public water supplies and private wells can become contaminated by waterborne germs, such as CryptosporidiumE. coli, Hepatitis A, Giardia, and other pathogens, which can cause illness, diarrhea, infection, and even death. If these pathogens contaminate your water, they will adhere to your hands when you wash—and if you do not use soap, they will likely remain there, becoming a source of contamination and disease.

Water Filtration Can Enhance Handwashing Protection

While many people self-report washing their hands frequently and properly, they do not. If you are among those who do not regularly use soap when you wash your hands, you need not admit it to us, but you can better protect yourself and your family from getting and spreading germs and viruses.

Even if you use soap and water every time you wash your hands, do you not want to make every effort to ensure your hands are as clean as possible?

The best way to wash your hands is in clean, contaminant-free water from a water filtration system. A water filter such as the Aqualite reverse osmosis under-sink system not only reduces common chemical contaminants but is also highly effective at reducing CryptosporidiumGiardia, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and viruses such as norovirus, Hepatitis A, and rotavirus.

While reducing these contaminants will keep you and your family healthier and reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal illness, it is essential for those with weakened immune systems from HIV, chemotherapy, or transplant medications.

That population is more vulnerable to microbial contaminants, especially Cryptosporidium, which can cause severe illness. Therefore, the EPA recommends point-of-use systems, including those using reverse osmosis.

Mother And Daughter Washing Hands In Kitchen

When to Wash Your Hands

Even when using clean, pure water and soap, you still need to follow proper handwashing techniques to effectively clean your hands and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.

The CDC recommends washing your hands:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, wash your hands with soap and water before and after:

  • Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Touching your mask
  • Entering and leaving a public place
  • Touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

The CDC’s recommendation for proper handwashing:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Next, lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

A reverse osmosis system ensures you will have the cleanest water possible for drinking, cooking, and washing and will enhance your handwashing efforts to prevent the spread of disease.

Contact us now to get a free water test and learn about the health benefits of a water filtration system!

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