5 Hand Hygiene Tips for Cleaner, Healthier Hands

Did you know that flu cases all but disappeared during the COVID-19 pandemic? That’s the good news. The bad news is those pesky germs are back and act differently than before, posing new health risks.

Fortunately, proper hygiene remains your best weapon in the war against infectious disease. However, you don’t have to walk around wearing a hazmat suit.

Proper cleanliness begins by washing your hands — often and thoroughly. Your digits touch countless surfaces throughout the day, transferring what they pick up elsewhere. To avoid spreading germs everywhere you go, here are five hand hygiene tips for cleaner, healthier hands.

5 Hand Hygiene Tips for Cleaner, Healthier Hands

1. Lather Up

Ordinary soap and water are your best tools for proper hand hygiene. It does the same job of killing germs as antibacterial soap and most of the ingredients on the label require a full two minutes to work — longer than most folks stand at the sink. Stick with the sage advice of singing “Happy Birthday” twice in your head and you’ll do a thorough job of removing contaminants.

Learn When to Lather Up

You’re probably better off paying more attention to when you should lather up rather than how after two years of pandemic scrubbing. While you might lather up more frequently if you have a sick family member, many people only wash before leaving the restroom. You should also get sudsy on the following occasions:

  • Before and after preparing and eating food
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound or tending someone sick
  • After using the restroom
  • Cleaning a child after they use the restroom or need a diaper change
  • After sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing
  • After playing with an animal or picking up waste
  • After picking up trash (or any sketchy substance)

Additionally, start training yourself and your kids to keep your hands away from your face — easier said than done. Use mindfulness and be gentle, joking instead of chastising yourself if you forget.

2. Clean Under Your Nails

Most of your hands’ surfaces contain hundreds of thousands of bacteria. Guess what? They can also gather under your nails, thanks to physical protection from keratin and moisture beneath the surface. Routine hand washing doesn’t touch these bugs — you must go at it with a brush and a vengeance.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, long nails harbor more germs than short ones. Artificial nails are the worst, with all kinds of bacteria accumulating between the various layers. However, men tend to get more nasties under their fingernails than women. Perhaps trips to the salon wash some of the baddies away.

Nail-biters had the lowest level of under-nail bacteria, but that doesn’t mean you should chow down. They end up ingesting these germs. Your digestive juices might kill some of them, but others could make you sick. If biting is a problem, invest in a nasty-tasting top coat until you kick the habit.

3. Use Sanitizer

Sometimes you can’t get to a sink. In such cases, hand sanitizer can be your savior and best friend — but you have to use it correctly for maximum germ-fighting protection.

Use enough product to cover your hands’ surfaces without turning them into a river. You must rub the substance in until your hands feel dry, typically about 20 seconds. Wiping your hands on another surface to dry them can introduce new germs and prevent the alcohol from killing every nasty bug.

4. Cough Into Your Sleeve

Covering your mouth with a hand when coughing or sneezing seems like a kind gesture until you introduce yourself to someone and shake their hand. Ew.

Instead, cough into your sleeve, even if you suspect allergies and not an infection. Doing so keeps germs from spreading to your hands that can then go on to contaminate everything else you touch. You don’t handle many objects on grocery shelves with your shoulder.

When Should You Wear Gloves?

Wearing gloves while doing daily activities can instill a false sense of security. You may still touch germy surfaces with gloved hands and raise them to your face.

However, experts do recommend wearing gloves when tending to the sick or cleaning and disinfecting your home. The latter can keep your skin softer, preventing contact with caustic chemicals that cause premature aging.

5. Cover Your Cuts

Cuts provide a direct line to your bloodstream where germs can enter and sicken you in no time.

Instead, cover your cuts. Doing so protects you and others from infectious diseases that live in human blood and can contaminate surfaces.

Keep Your Hands Clean With These Hygiene Tips

The pandemic may not make headlines anymore, but infectious diseases are still everywhere. Keeping your hands clean is still the best way to avoid getting sick.

Follow the five hand hygiene tips above for cleaner, healthier hands. You’ll protect yourself and your family from disease while keeping others safer, too.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 25, 2023

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