The Hand-washing Techniques Doctors Use

With the novel strain of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, spreading throughout the world and flu season still upon those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, medical professionals have been stressing proper handwashing technique more than ever before. It may sound simple, but many people don’t do a good job washing their hands as they think they do. And that’s if they even do it at all. Here’s what the doctors want you to know about washing your hands.

First, wet your hands. Many people reach for the soap as the first step of their handwashing technique, but you actually want to turn on the water and wet your hands to the wrists first. If you are using a touch dispenser for paper towel, you may want to get the paper ready before you even get to this step.

Apply a good amount of soap to your moistened hands and lather up. Don’t forget the back of your hands, which man people skip, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.

Scrub for at least 20 seconds. We’ve all heard this by now, but 20 seconds is longer than most people think. You can sing (or think) a song for 20 seconds. The “Happy Birthday” song, which has the same tune as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Litle Star,” will do the trick, but any song works. Make sure not to speed the song up as some people are wont to do.

Surgeons use a scrub brush beneath their nails, on both sides of their fingers, and up to their elbows. This may be overkill for daily use, even with the risk of COVID-19, but it illustrates how poorly most of us wash our hands.

Rinse your hands completely beneath running water. Do not touch the edge of the sink or faucet, which can contain germs.

Dry your hands. A clean paper towel is the best option. You may also use a paper towel to turn off the tap and open the bathroom door to prevent your freshly-cleaned hands from becoming sullied. A blow dryer is the next best bet, followed by air drying. Don’t use your clothing to dry your hands.

If all this handwashing leaves your skin dry, peeling, or otherwise irritated, consider