Handwashing is thought to be effective for the prevention of transmission of diarrhoea pathogens. Failing to sufficiently wash one’s hands contributes to ~ 50% of all foodborne illness outbreaks. Bacteria of potential faecal origin (mostly Enterococcus and Enterobacter spp.) were found after no handwashing in 44% of samples. Handwashing with water alone reduced the presence of bacteria to 23%. Handwashing with plain soap and water reduced the presence of bacteria to 8%. The effect did not appear to depend on the bacteria species. Handwashing with non-antibacterial soap and water is more effective for the removal of bacteria of potential faecal origin from hands than handwashing with water alone.
- Only 5% of people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections (for only 6 seconds on average),
- 33% did not use soap,
- 10% did not wash their hands at all,
- 50% of men used soap, compared with 78% of women.
Washing hands under running water:
- Wet your hands with clean water, warm or cold, apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
When to wash hands:
- Before, during, and after preparing food.
- Before eating food.
- After using the toilet.
- After touching garbage.
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
- Before and after treating a cut or wound.
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.
- After handling pet food or pet treats.