Not long ago, I was in the bathroom of a restaurant and out of the toilet stall came a cook. He closed the door to his stall and walked out of the bathroom without washing his hands. Whoa! Ewwwwww.
Needless to say, I walked out of the bathroom and straight out the door. Eschia! I later called the manager and told him what had happened.
And guess what? Many diseases and conditions are spread by people like the cook who do not wash their hands. So, does this mean washing our hands is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick or to spread germs to others? Well yaaaaaa!
And how do germs get onto our hands and make people sick? Well, well, well … it appears human or animal poop is an important source of germs like Salmonella, E.coli, and norovirus that cause diarrhea. I hope that cook is reading this. LOL.
Your poop also has germs that can spread respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease. Whoa!
Germs can get onto our hands when we use the toilet or change a diaper, but also in less obvious ways, like when we handle raw meats that have animal poop on them that we can’t see.
They can also get onto our hands if we touch something that has germs on it after someone coughed or sneezed, or if the thing was touched by some other contaminated object. Germs on our unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while we prepare or eat them. They can also get onto things like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then be transferred to another person’s hands and make them sick. Totally not cool.
When should you wash your hands?
I always wash my hands before, during, and after I prepare food and before I eat. And before and after caring for someone who is sick, and before and after treating a cut or wound.
Of course, I always, always wash my hands after using the toilet, after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet, and after touching garbage.
My wife Jean said, “you changed diapers? Eschia!”
Don’t forget to wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste; and after handling pet food or pet treats.
How to wash your hands
First, wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap. It’s best to use running water because you can re-contaminate your hands if you use a basin of standing water.
Turning off the faucet saves water, and believe it or not, “they” say not a lot of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet. Studies also show that, unless you’re a professional in a healthcare setting, there’s no added health benefit in using antibacterial soaps compared to using plain soap. Hmmmm. How about that.
Remember, germs can be any place on your hands, and can be highly concentrated under your fingernails. So, rub the soap all over the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Canadian, American, and global health organizations recommend scrubbing your hands with the soap for at least 20 seconds. That’s about the same length of time it takes to hum the Happy Birthday song from beginning to end twice.
Then, rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Rinsing helps remove disease-causing germs and helps minimize skin irritation. While some people recommend using a paper towel to turn off the faucet, apparently there are no studies showing that it’s better for your health. Pssssst… I’m still going to use a paper towel to turn off the faucet. LOL.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or by air drying them. Why? It appears that germs are more easily transferred to and from wet hands and studies show it’s the best way to dry your hands.
Having seen countless people, like the cook, leave the bathroom without washing their hands, I also always use a paper towel to open the door when leaving the bathroom.