Why is hand washing important?

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Washing your hands is one of the simplest but most important things you can do to protect your health. Good hand hygiene helps prevent the spread of disease, including the coronavirus.

How germs get onto your hands

Think of all the things you touched today – from door handles to nappies. Maybe you took a bus or went to the supermarket. Wherever you went today, you will have come into contact with germs. Anything that is touched by people a lot in a public place can transfer germs to your hands when you touch them. It’s easy for germs on your hands to end up in your eyes, nose or mouth when you touch your face. When you wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser you can stop these germs getting into your body.

Using soap and hand sanitiser

Water alone isn’t enough to clean your hands properly. The coronavirus is an ‘enveloped virus’. This means it has an outer protective layer, like an envelope, of lipids and proteins which protect it and help it get into our cells. In the case of the coronavirus, our lung cells.

The superpower of soap

When you lather up using soap you wash the virus away from your body, and the outer fatty layer of the virus breaks down so it can’t bind to your cells and cause an infection. Plus using soap will leave your hands feeling clean with a pleasant aroma – always a nice way to stay fresh throughout the day.

Bosh germs anytime, anywhere

If you are out and about and can’t get to a sink, then a hand sanitiser will work just as well. But it’s important to use a hand sanitiser that has at least a 69% alcohol content. Before you leave the house remember to pick up a portable size hand sanitiser at the same time as you check you’ve got your keys or mobile phone. Once you make it part of your routine, you’ll soon be developing good hand hygiene habits.

Stopping the spread of germs

As well as practicing good hand hygiene we can also stop the spread of germs with social distancing. By limiting the contact you have with people you don’t live with, or anyone not in your support bubble, you can help protect yourself. Try to stay a safe distance away from people in public places by following guidance using floor markings. Stay up to date with advice from the government which will change as the coronavirus situation evolves.

Good habits for health

Other good personal hygiene habits which help prevent the spread of coronavirus are covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Make sure you bin your used tissue right away rather than putting it in a bag or pocket. Then wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser if you can’t get to a sink. You should also follow the latest government advice on wearing face coverings on public transport and in shops.