October 15 marks #Global Handwashing Day, with this year’s theme “Clean Hands are in Reach.” This serves to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap, as an affordable and effective way to prevent disease and save lives.

The importance of hand washing for health

Over 80% of common infections are transmitted through the hands. Washing hands at least five times a day has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of colds, COVID-19, influenza (flu) and other infections (Source: BC Centre for Disease Control).

Hand washing is a simple but extremely effective measure to prevent the spread of disease and protect personal health. Our hands are constantly in contact with the environment, making them the main source of pathogen transmission. Microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi can accumulate on the hands and from there they can be transmitted to various surfaces and other people and even cause serious health problems.

Hand washing as an effective prevention measure:

Proper hand washing is critical to preventing the spread of diseases and germs. Here is our list of key points:

1. Water

Wet your hands with water.

2. Soap thoroughly

Rub your hands together thoroughly to make sure the soap covers all areas of the hands, including the palms, fingertips, thumbs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. This should take at least 20 seconds.

3. Rinse

Rinse your hands thoroughly with clean, running water to remove soap. Be careful not to leave any soap residue on your hands.

4. Drying

Dry your hands thoroughly with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Avoid drying your hands on clothing or other surfaces. After you wash your hands, avoid touching doorknobs or faucets with your freshly cleaned hands. Use a clean paper towel or your elbow to close the faucet.

5. Disinfection

If water and soap are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol. Rub it thoroughly into your hands until they are dry.

Frequency: Wash your hands regularly, especially in the following situations:

  • After using the restroom
  • Before eating or preparing food
  • After contact with garbage
  • After using public transportation
  • After touching animals
  • After sneezing, coughing

Following these hand hygiene practices is critical to reducing the spread of disease and protecting your personal health, especially during times of infectious disease or pandemics.

What kind of soap should I use?

There are several types of hand soaps available on the market. The most common are liquid soaps, antibacterial soaps and foaming soaps.

  • Liquid soap is a liquid form of soap that is used to clean the hands and body. It is convenient to use and often comes in pump bottles or dispensers. Liquid soap comes in a variety of scents and formulations to meet different needs. It is a common alternative to solid soaps.
  • Foaming soap produces a dense, stable lather that requires less soap for effective cleaning. This helps lower soap costs and reduce waste. Foam soap is often used in touchless dispensers, which minimizes the transfer of germs and bacteria and promotes overall hand hygiene.
  • Antibacterial soap contains ingredients that kill bacteria or inhibit their proliferation. It is useful in environments that are exposed to a higher risk of infection, such as healthcare settings.
  • Abrasive soap is a special type of soap that contains abrasive or scrubbing particles to remove stubborn dirt and grime from skin or other surfaces. These particles can be natural materials such as corncob granules, sand or walnut shells. Abrasive soap is often used in workshops, garages or after labor-intensive activities to loosen and thoroughly clean soils. However, it should be used with caution, as abrasive particles can irritate the skin.

Ultimately, you should choose the soap that best suits your needs and does not overly dry or irritate your skin.