Why Handwashing is Critical
Handwashing is critical to good health and warding off germs, sickness and disease. You need to use soap and water to wash off bacteria and viruses. Then, you need to create a barrier so that viruses and bacteria do not absorb through the skin. Remember, your skin is the largest organ of your body. It breathes. It has open pores. You need to protect yourself from the environment around you.
Just using “hand sanitizers” doesn’t work. In fact, I have said for years and years that the alcohol in hand sanitizers leave your pores open to receive more bacteria and viruses than leaving them dirty. While the alcohol may kill the germs already on your hands, it doesn’t protect you from new germs. It has now been proven that hand sanitizers open the pores. Why would you want your pores open?
This morning I saw a link about handwashing on Facebook (link at end of this blog). It’s a great way to show people – young and old – the importance of handwashing.
I wish they had made us do this experiment in culinary school. I’d see so many students (and chefs in commercial kitchens) handling their phones, then touching food. Ewwww (and people wonder why I don’t like to eat out!). Even in the sanitation class where we learned so much about the importance of proper handwashing, it really didn’t sink in for most students. They’d go ahead and handle their phones while cooking. There’s a reason I print out recipes and tape them to the cabinet above my work station.
When I was teaching home ec in the late 1990s, my home kitchen was cleaner than the school kitchen so we brought the students to my house for a full day of class once a month. Anyone who knows me knows that I have cats. The rule was, before we started cooking everyone had to thoroughly wash their hands. And if they touched a cat, they would have to rewash their hands. You would think that washing hands was a terrible punishment the way these girls all warned each other about not touching the cats or they’d have to wash their hands again. But it was a good lesson. They did learn to wash their hands thoroughly, keep them clean, and not touch things they shouldn’t while cooking.
To properly wash your hands you need soap, very warm water, and TIME.
I just use a good bar soap made from a source I trust. I like bar soaps for a couple reasons. One, they are less wasteful compared to a normal pump liquid soap (although the foaming liquid soaps are less wasteful). Two, touching the soap dispenser transfers any germs from your hands onto the dispenser, which is then transferred to the next person touching it. And, three, I like the action of scrubbing the bar against my skin, which also helps to remove germs.
You do not need antibacterial soap. The chemicals used in them are highly suspect and I do not allow them in my house. There are many websites that will detail why antibacterial soaps are not a good idea. In fact, it is my understanding that the main ingredient in antibacterial soaps has now been banned by the FDA.
Use the warmest water that you are comfortable using. We don’t want to scald our hands or damage them in any way because that opens the pores and allows in more germs.
There is a trick we learned in sanitation class, and that is just singing through the Happy Birthday song twice, which takes about 25 or 30 seconds. In that time, you should have been able to wash your hands thoroughly including getting between your fingers, the cuticles, and even checking under the nails for any debris. Handwashing does not need to take a lot of time!
Teaching your kids at a very young age to do the birthday song twice while they wash their hands is fun and makes hand-washing enjoyable. You don’t have to use the Happy birthday song, you can use any song you want as long as it lasts at least 25 to 30 seconds. Just make it fun and do it consistently.
The final step after washing your hands is to protect them. In a commercial kitchen, you cannot do this. But I always did this at home before I left and the act of hand-washing did not remove the protective layer.
What I’m talking about, is a good barrier. A good barrier would be something that is inherently antibacterial and doesn’t wash off easily. I chose to use homemade body butter for that barrier that includes coconut oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, and more. I will also use just plain coconut oil. Yes, that means everything I touch leaves a greasy residue until it soaks in. But my hands are protected. I do have little cotton gloves at home that I can put on after I put on the barrier if I need to touch things that might be stained. Even at home, after I have washed my hands and put on the barrier in the morning before I touch any food, I again wash my hands quickly. As I said it only takes 25 seconds. It is not long enough to remove the barrier, but it is long enough to wash off the germs that are on top of the barrier.
I promise to give you a link to the experiment that sparked writing this blog today. And here it is. A Teacher Shows the Power of Handwashing. It would be a fun experiment at home – just don’t use sourdough bread as it does not mold well.
I have a friend who just started her own natural soap company. If you would like to look at the soaps that she makes, this is her Instagram page, Sweetest Tabu Creation.
Have a great weekend. Remember, wash your hands, your health depends on it.
#handwashing #stopspreadingtheflu #germs #bacteria #expriments