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Healthy hands to stop the spread this flu season

June 10, 2020 3 min read


2020 has seen a new normal that has changed the way we greet each other, how we are called to refrain from touching our faces and becoming so much more mindful about hand and body hygiene in our home and when we are out and about. Shaking hands has become passé (for the time being I hope), we have had to invent new ways of greeting each other!

Much has been made of the use of sanitisers and rightly so, but the best and most effective form of infection control we have to keep germs and viruses from entering our bodies or contaminating anything we touch is to wash our hands.

In its advice on protective measures for COVID-19, the World Health Organisation has hand washing at the top of the list.

“Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water” it advises.

“Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses on your hands.”

Research shows hand washing significantly helps to prevent illness and the spread of infection.

And hand washing shouldn’t just follow toilet use! You should wash your hands:

  • After you cough or sneeze (into your elbow)
  • When you have been using public transport ( definitely)
  • Before you eat and prepare food
  • After you handle animals
  • When you care for someone unwell

Technique is important and something that should be shown to all family members, especially children – so here’s a quick rundown on what matters when hand washing.

A quick splash under the tap isn’t enough. For germ free hands you’ll need to wash under running water for at least 20 seconds, with lots of rubbing together of your hands. Get the kids to sing Happy Birthday through 2’s!

Soap dissolves the layer of acidic fats, oils and cellular debris and the outer layer of viruses.

Liquid soap is less likely to be contaminated than a cake of soap. The more heavily a bar of soap is used, the more microorganisms it holds, meaning that bars of soap used in public places are more likely to be an issue than bars of soap used at home. Germs do live on bars of soap. Several studies over the past decades have shown that bar soaps used at home and in public places harbour bacteria, such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. 

It may be tempting to use antibacterial soaps to be sure you get rid of all the nasties, but there is no proof that these products work any better than regular soap and water.

It’s best to use running water if you can, as clean hands are likely to become contaminated again if you wash them in a sink or bowl of water. If there is no running water, make do with what is available.

Soap lathers better in warm water, which is less likely to strip away the natural oils in skin than either hot or cold water. Very hot water may kill disease causing microbes, but the temperature needed (80 degrees C) would leave you with significant burns!

Once the soap and the friction have lifted the germs & dirt from your hands, you need to rinse them down the sink. Rinse under running water for best results.

A hand sanitiser or gel that contains at least 70% alcohol is your best bet.

Now that we have had a taste of what is involved with a serious virus contagion, we will all most likely be happy to continue the efforts we have been employing in the last few weeks to maintain good health. Habits are hard to break and form, but maybe this will be a GOOD habit that we can all continue to minimize risks of contamination and transference to our families, friends and colleagues.

envirocare Earth Hand Wash is available in 200ml and 500ml with refill sizes of 2ltrs and 15ltrs.

To prevent dying out of your hands (because we are washing them so much) I recommend using envirocare earth Hand Lotion that comes in 200ml, 500ml and 2ltrs for refilling to help prevent dry and cracked hands.

Stay healthy & vital this coming flu season as well.