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National Handwashing Awareness Week: Why It’s Always Mattered

Washing Hands

How many times have you washed your hands while humming “Happy Birthday” (twice!) since March? The novel coronavirus has ushered in a new era of mindful handwashing, but why is it so important? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to other people.

In fact, evidence suggests washing hands with soap and water for 15 seconds (approximately one chorus of “Happy Birthday”) reduces bacterial counts by about 90%. When an additional 15 seconds is added, bacterial counts drop by close to 99.9%. Removing germs through hand washing helps prevent respiratory infections and may also help prevent skin and eye infections.

How does handwashing help prevent infections?

Handwashing with soap and water removes germs and prevents illnesses and infections because:

  • Unwashed hands are more likely to make you sick.
    You probably touch your face 16 times per hour without even realizing it. Germs that transfer from the hands to the eyes, nose and mouth are what often make us sick. 
  • Germs like to multiply
    Germs that pass from unwashed hands into certain foods and drinks, like to multiply and can make people sick.
  • Germs like to hitchhike
    Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails,
    tabletops or toys and then transferred to another person’s hands.

Five Steps to Proper Handwashing

December 6-12 is National Handwashing Month, so we thought it would be the perfect time to share these five steps, so you can be a handwashing hero:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Create lather by rubbing your hands together with soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or let them air dry.

For more tips on handwashing or keeping your family healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact Pomona Valley Health Centers at 909-378-9143. We’re currently offering telemedicine services to all PVHC patients because we want you to get the care you need from the comfort, convenience and—most of all—safety of your home.