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10 Common Hand Washing Mistakes You Are Probably Making

By Neha Ghosh

When we were small as children, we were often taught at a young age to wash our hands before eating and after using the restroom. This is an effective way to stay healthy and avoid spreading diseases. In this article, we will be discussing the common hand washing mistakes.

In a study, scientists in Scotland found that an alternative technique, recommended by the World Health Organisation was significantly more effective in reducing the median bacteria count on your hands.


Hand hygiene is the single most important intervention that you can do to stop infections, as well as to protect yourself and your family from infections and viruses.

Health experts say that certain antibacterial soaps may do more harm than good. According to the Food and Drug Administration recommendation, use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.

Read on to know how to wash your hands by avoiding these common hand washing mistakes.

1. You Don't Wash Your Hands Long Enough

A study from the Michigan State University revealed that 95 percent of the people don't wash their hands long enough to effectively kill germs. The study found that the average hand washing time was only about six seconds. What's grosser is that 15 percent of men and 7 percent of women didn't wash their hands after using the restroom.

2. You Wash Only After Using The Bathroom

Whatever your hands are touching throughout the day like elevator buttons, doorknob, or ATM, you are at risk of picking up more bacteria. Most often people wash their hands after using the bathroom. But, it is essential that you wash your hands after touching anything, especially during the cold and flu season.


3. You Don't Scrub Soap Long Enough

How to wash your hands? You need to scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Yes, that's right! Rub your palms, the back of your hands and your fingernails properly. As most of the germs reside in the tip of your fingernails and in the pockets between your fingers. So, these areas should be washed properly whenever you wash your hands. The friction of rubbing both the hands is the key to eliminate dirt, grease, and microbes from the skin.

4. You Don't Dry Your Hands Thoroughly

The importance of hand washing techniques goes to waste if you skip drying your hands. Leaving the bathroom with damp hands can make it easier to pick up germs or microbes from the next surface that you touch. If you have both paper towels or air blowers in the restroom, choose the paper towels.

Paper towels are far more superior to dryers at getting your hands properly dried up without catching onto germs or drying out the skin. If the air blowers are the only option, ensure that you blow dry your hands completely dry.

5. You Think Only Hot Water Kills Germs

There is a widespread belief that washing hands with hot water or lukewarm water can kill hand germs effectively. But a recent study by researchers concluded that cold water also reduces levels of bacteria just as well as hot water, as long as your hands were scrubbed, rinsed, and dried properly. To kill the bacteria off your hands, you need to use boiling water at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. You Touch Other Surfaces Immediately After Washing Your Hands

Right after you wash your hands, do you touch other surfaces? If yes, then you should know that it is best to turn off the tap or open the door of the public restroom with a paper towel to keep your hands germ free. A study found that 27 percent of the bathroom faucets carried molds and 5 percent had staph.

7. You Skip The Soap And Use Hand Sanitizer Instead

Sanitizers which contain alcohol can remove many types of microbes effectively. But, it has limitations like not being able to eliminate all types of germs or harmful chemicals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people use hand sanitizers incorrectly by not using enough of the liquid. If you are using a hand sanitizer get a good portion to wash your hands.

8. Not Rinsing Your Soap Before Each Use

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a study said that pathogenic organisms may hide in your bar soap during and after usage. Bacteria live in the slime of the bar soap and not washing it before use will transfer these germs into your hands. Instead, rinse the soap in running water before lathering up to wash away the dirt. Always store your soap in a dry place.

9. You Don't Use Soap To Wash Your Hands

Soap can do a lot more than keeping your hands smelling good. Soaps are made with a chemical concoction that is made specifically for lifting sticky germs off your skin. However, very little evidence shows that antibacterial soap is better at preventing illness. Instead, use liquid soap as it's more effective than bar soap because it's less likely to be contaminated.

10. You Use Soap From A Refilled Dispenser

You might think that the liquid soap dispensers in bathrooms are not harmful. But a study showed that the soap dispensers which are refilled from a large liquid soap bottle can lead to an increase in bacteria levels in your hands compared to soap dispensers that have been replaced with a sealed refill. This is one of the common hand washing mistakes.

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