Q. Does it really make a difference if I use soap to wash my hands?
A. Absolutely! You get much better results by washing your hands with soap than you would get with just using water. If you don’t have access to soap, rinsing your hands with water is better than not doing anything. However, soap is much better to remove dirt and germs from your hands.
Q. When should you wash your hands?
A. Frequently! You definitely need to wash your hands after changing a child’s diaper, after going to the bathroom, and when you are making or eating food.
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that you should wash your hands after handling animals or their food. And of course, after coughing, blowing your nose or sneezing.
Q. What is the correct way to wash hands?
A. Use soap and running water. You should wet your hands and cover all of the parts of your hands with soap, and then make sure to scrub well. You need to do this for at least 20 seconds (try singing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing because that generally takes 20 seconds). Then, rinse the soap and water off of your hands, and dry your hands using a clean towel.
Q. What temperature water is best for hand washing?
A. It is a good idea to use warm water to wash your hands. This is especially important if you are preparing food.
Q. Are hand sanitizers just as effective as handwashing with soap?
If you don’t have access to soap and water, you can use hand sanitizers in a pinch. But using soap and water to wash your hands is always best because the hand sanitizers don’t get rid of dirt.
Q. Is it better to use bar soap or liquid hand soap?
There is a lot of debate about what form of soap is better. As you might expect, studies have shown that bar soaps that were used often by many people contained more potentially harmful microbes.
Washing your hands with water and a bar of soap makes the fats in the soap break down and lather. Water does not remove all of the bacteria, and therefore some of the bacteria stays on the bar of soap when you are finished. Rinsing off the bar will only get rid of some of that bacteria. If the bar of soap is in your house, instead of a public place, less people will have used it.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that liquid soap be used to reduce the risk of spreading germs. You should not refilling liquid hand soap containers, because that can spread germs. Your best bet is to throw away the liquid hand soap dispenser after using it.
The CDC does not think that a combination of bar and liquid soap provides any additional benefits to consumers.