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Canadian Doctor Shows You How to Wash Your Hands Properly

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Photo by Maria Elena Aldama

Most of us are washing our hands more often these days, it’s important that when you do take the time to wash, that you do it properly.  The well publicized ‘20 second’ rule comes from the medical world and the CDC, it is the likely amount of time it takes to scrub all the surfaces of both hands, clean.  Washing your hands for 5 seconds is essentially, useless.  If you are going to wash, do it properly, like a surgeon.  This is a good way you can help to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Dr. Samantha Hill is a Cardiac Surgeon and President of the Ontario Medical Association, so she knows how to wash her hands.  The reason we chose a Canadian Surgeon to teach us about hand washing, is because a surgeon’s hands have to be clean enough to go inside a human body during surgery without contaminating it with bacteria and microbes, so their technique is clinical.

The fact that she is Canadian is not relevant to the science, it’s simply for the general “pleasantness” factor we find in Canadians.

In the video you will see how to scrub all the surface area of your hands.  You will also notice that the surgeon does not touch the faucet handle (or anything) with their bare hands after washing is finished.  The faucet handle, along with the bathroom door are not clean.  So use the paper towel you’re using to dry your hands, to also shut off the faucet ,and if needed, to open the bathroom door.

hand washing myths:

Myth: “Hand-Soap kills germs”.  Most soap is there to wash-away ‘germs’.  Most hand soap is not enough to kill things on your hands, the soap is there to bond/stick with the oils, dirt and microbes on your hands so that the water can wash them down the drain.  Do not assume soap is a disinfectant.  Friction and water is how you rid your hands of pathogens.  This is how you wash coronavirus off of your hands, and down the drain.

Myth: “You have to wash your hands with hot water”:  Hot water from the faucet is not hot enough to kill germs.  If it were hot enough to actually kill viruses and bacteria (140 degrees F) it would also burn your skin.

Water temperature approaching a 120 degrees Fahrenheit is also approaching a skin ‘scalding’ temperature.  Most household water heaters do not go above 120 Fahrenheit for this purpose.  According to WHO, temperatures of 140°F to 150°F are enough to kill most viruses (including coronavirus), and boiling water makes it safe from pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.  But 140 degree water is way too hot for your skin, it would scald you, just as it would scald viruses and bacteria.

‘Warm’ water is simply about comfort and for better soapy friction on you hands.  A nice soapy lather at a comfortable temperature is ideal washing away dirt, oil and microbes on the surface of your hands.  The temperature of your hand washing water does not kill germs.

Hand Sanitizer

If you don’t have access to soap and running water, hand sanitizer is a good backup, just make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol, since sanitizers with less alcohol than that might not kill as many germs.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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