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This Experiment May Change How You Wash Your Hands

October 14, 2015 3 min read

Most of us wash our hands regularly to ensure we steer clear of germs and keep our hands clean for our own comfort. But are you actually cleaning your hands enough? This is how clean your hands are after you wash using one of these methods. Jennie Agg from the Daily Mail decided to use a UV camera in order to test out a variety of hand-washing techniques. "First, I rub on a gel known as Glo Germ, which simulates how bacteria cling to your skin. The gel, which is clear but 'glows' under UV light, is used as a visual aid in hygiene training - it's been used for training nurses who are going to be working with ebola patients, for example," Agg explains. "The gel contains particles the same size as bacteria, so any that's left behind (ie, that shows up white in the UV light) gives you an immediate idea of how good your hand-washing technique is." Therefore, the whiter the hands, the dirtier they are -  and the darker they are, the cleaner. The first technique Agg tried out was the rinse and shake. This is when you suddenly notice there is no soap or towel, or perhaps you find yourself in a rush and think wetting your hands is better than nothing. This picture clearly shows, however, that plenty of bugs are left behind when this method is used. "A quick rinse is never enough," says Dr Lisa Ackerley, a leading hygiene expert and visiting professor at the University of Salford. "Everyone needs to wash their hands properly, especially after going to the bathroom." This is how clean your hands are after you wash using one of these methods. The next technique she tried was rinsing for 6 seconds without soap. This is the average time research says people wash their hands. But it's still not long enough to truly remove bacteria. "The NHS recommends we wash for at least 15 seconds - roughly the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice over at a fairly jaunty pace," says Agg. Even though there is definitely less white on her hands, the method was clearly not as effective as need be.

"Drying your hands is really important," says Dr Ackerley. "If you've missed anything while washing, the rubbing action will help remove any bacteria. Norovirus can survive well on hard surfaces, such as door handles, so you run the risk of picking up people's germs. Never dry hands on the kitchen tea towel. Any bacteria you take off your hands could then be transferred to when you wash up. I prefer to use kitchen roll."

This is how clean your hands are after you wash using one of these methods. Agg then tried washing her hands for 6 seconds with soap. According to Dr. Curtis ,an expert in hygiene and public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical, the soap is a necessary factor in ensuring your hands get clean. "As long as you use soap, it's quite hard to wash your hands badly. It's sticky, so you have to wash it off - taking the bacteria with it," she says. "Soap doesn't kill bacteria, it gets rid of them," she says. "This is because one end of the soap molecule attaches to water while the other end attaches to dirt. So, as you rinse your soap-covered hands, the water strips off the soap, taking the dirt with it." This is how clean your hands are after you wash using one of these methods.

Washing your hands for 15 seconds with soap is the recommended technique, according to the NHS. This image clearly notes that there is far less white than when Agg washed her hands for less time with soap. "You should wash for 15 seconds because you need that time to clean all the little bits of your hands," says Dr Ackerley.

This is how clean your hands are after you wash using one of these methods.

Lastly, Agg tried washing her hands with soap for 30 seconds. "I cannot stress enough how unnaturally long this felt," she explains.

"With a very careful technique or washing for much longer you get rid of the remaining few bacteria, but it's getting rid of the majority that matters," Dr Curtis notes.

This is how clean your hands are after you wash using one of these methods.

What technique do you typically use?

Source: Daily Mail

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