Hand-washing is one of the key ways to protect against coronavirus and other winter bugs – but chances are, you’re not doing it for long enough.
Experts don’t fully know how the latest type of coronavirus spreads, but based on other coronaviruses, it’s believed to be via droplets in the air. If you touch a surface where these droplets have landed, you’ll get a virus on your hands – quite literally.
And hand-washing, or at the very least using hand sanitiser if soap and water aren’t available, is key to getting rid of these unfriendly germs.
Coronavirus aside, knowing how to wash your hands properly is important for everyday life. Public Health England (PHE) previously warned that faecal contamination, which can cause gastrointestinal infections, has been found on a wide variety of surfaces including bank notes, kitchen taps and mobile phones.
You should be washing your hands after going to the toilet or changing a nappy, before preparing and eating food, after handling raw meat, after touching animals, and after using public transport.
So, how do you wash your hands properly?
Because yes, there’s an art to it.
The NHS says we should wash our hands with warm water and soap for as long as it takes to sing the song ‘Happy Birthday’, twice. That’s about 20 seconds, if you’d rather count.
First up, wet your hands with warm water, then apply enough soap to cover all of your hands (three pumps should do the trick).
Next, rub your hands together swiftly ensuring you clean the back of each hand with the palm of the other hand, and paying attention to getting soap between the fingers.
Rub your palms together and clean in between your fingers again. Make sure you clean each of your thumbs, too. Then rub the tips of your fingers on your palms, almost like you’re lightly scratching each palm with the other hand, and rinse.
Dry your hands completely. If you used a paper towel to dry them, use the towel to turn off the tap (if it’s not an automatic one), and throw the towel in the bin.
Lastly, make sure you use hand cream at least once every day – possibly even more if you struggle with dry skin.