The truth of hand washing

Myth 1: Wash with hot water is better than cold water.

Most of us think hot water helps kill germs and bacteria on our hands. But the reality is, the water would have to be scalding hot to make that happen. In fact, hot water may work against us. Water that is too hot may cause us to remove our hands too quickly to wash properly. Further, researchers in Florida found that there is statistically little difference whether hands are washed in hot or cold water.

Myth 2: Always use antibacterial soap when washing hands.

Back in 2007, a study of triclosan, which was used in hand soap and is now banned in the U.S., did not significantly reduce the number of bacteria on hands. Since then other studies have come to similar conclusions about many other antibacterial hand soaps.

Myth 3: You don’t have to dry your hands after washing.

Some people wash their hands, shake them off, and then fly out the door. Drying hands helps remove any remaining microbes on hands plus it is easier for pathogens to collect on hands that are wet.

Myth 4: Using disposable paper towel is the best way to dry hands.

This is true and for a variety of reasons. First, correctly using a disposable paper towel to dry hands takes about 10 seconds. Studies indicate it can take as long as 45 seconds for some electric dryers to remove moisture from hands thoroughly, far too long for most people to wait. And some studies indicate that hand dryers can spread microbes to nearby surfaces, increasing the chances of cross- contamination.