Bacteria and viruses are all around us. Most of them won’t harm us because we’re immune. But there are germs that can make us sick. Many infectious diseases such as the flu or stomach bugs are transmitted via the hands, with the bacteria or virus getting into the body when we touch our mouth, eyes or nose. Washing your hands properly on a regular basis reduces the number of germs. But because many people don’t do this correctly, they’re still left with germs on their hands.
You don’t have to wash your hands every time you touch someone or something. It’s much more important to make absolutely sure you wash them in certain situations, for example after going to the toilet, when you get home, and before and after meals. You should also wash your hands before and after cooking, especially if you’re preparing raw meat. To avoid infecting other people it’s important to wash the germs away if you already have a cold, are sneezing frequently, coughing or blowing your nose.
Most people don’t wash their hands carefully or thoroughly enough. It takes time to wash your hands properly: at least 20 to 30 seconds. Briefly running water on them isn’t sufficient. To keep your hands as germ-free as possible you should wash them with soap (ideally liquid soap). According to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health
, the main thing is to get the right combination of applying soap, rubbing, rinsing and drying.
How to wash your hands properly
- Wet your hands under running water.
- Lather with soap, covering all parts of your hands.
- Rub and clean the palms and backs of your hands all the way to the wrists.
- Make sure to clean between your fingers and under your nails.
- Rinse thoroughly under running water.
- Dry your hands thoroughly with a paper towel.