Hand-Washing Technique Is Surprisingly Controversial

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Hand-Washing Technique Is Surprisingly Controversial
Don Schaffner wants you to understand that your hands are never going to be clean. He should know - over the past 20 years, he has published multiple research papers investigating the minutia of hand-washing. (Work that is extremely relevant to the public interest all of a sudden.)


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Your hands are never going to be clean

Your hands are never going to be clean

There are just too many things living on our hands to wash all of them off.
Killing all the microbes on your hands has never even been the point of hand-washing. The point is to get as big a ...


The numerical oddities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to wash your hands for 20 seconds. The World Health Organization says hand-washing should take 40 to 60 seconds. And it's complicated to deter...


Logarithmic reduction

Food safety researchers have to think in orders of magnitude, by necessity. Instead of aiming to completely wipe out a population of microbes, they’re trying to achieve a relative decrease as measu...



Cleaning hands

Cleaning hands

Studies show that improving handwashing at 10 of the world’s leading airports could slow the spread of infectious diseases.

On average, only 20 percent of people in airports have clean han...

Improving handwashing

Focussing on the handwashing message at the most significant 10 airports in the world could reduce the spread of disease significantly at a global level (potentially by almost 70 percent).
Even small improvements in hygiene could make a huge difference. This could potentially be achieved through education, awareness, social-media nudges, public announcements and improved access to handwashing facilities.

Wash Your Hands

The best way to lower your risk of contracting the new virus is to wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, touch your face, and when you leave and return from the grocery store.

It's also i...

To Keep Yourself Virus-Free

  • Wash your hands.
  • Stay home if you can.
  • If you're coughing or sneezing, wear a protective mask.
  • First clean, then disinfect your home.
  • Target high-touch surfaces daily.


The EPA has a full list of disinfectants that will kill the new virus.

Disinfectant that will work is disinfecting wipes, disinfectant spray, Isopropyl alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide.

If you cannot find store-bought disinfectants, you can make a disinfectant spray with 4 teaspoons household bleach mixed with 1-quart water into a spray bottle. To use, spray on the surface, wait for 10 minutes and wipe away with a wet cloth. Don't mix bleach with another cleaning chemical.

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The worst enemy of the virus

The worst enemy of the virus

Even though a vaccine for the new virus is at least a year away, we all a way to fight the virus in our own homes: soap and water.
The soaps we use contain a class of compounds called surfac...

Washing our hands the right way

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to protect against the new virus. But it has to be done the right way.
You have to scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds. And make sure you cover all the important parts: palms, wrinkles, fingernails, between fingers, under rings, bandaids, or splints you may have on an injured finger.

Soap vs. hand sanitizer

Destroying the structure of viruses and other contaminations with soap and water is different than using disinfectants and sanitizers, which are designed to kill germs but not remove them from your skin.