Ozark River Manufacturing Co.

What’s Behind the Hand Washing Steps?

Close up shot of individual washing their hands to demonstrate the in-depth hand washing steps provided by the CDC.

There’s nothing like a good round of hand washing. We sing our ABCs, scrub away, and gaze longingly at our reflections for 20 seconds. But what do the white coat wearing smarty pants tell us as to why we have to follow each of these hand washing steps? 

The CDC’s hand washing steps

The CDC has broken it all down for us and now Ozark River Manufacturing is going to dive a little deeper too.

“Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.”

Using running water from a clean source, as opposed to stagnant, possibly contaminated water avoids any immediate germs getting on those hands before you even start. According to extensive research, the initial water temperature “does not appear to affect microbe removal.” However, hot water is more effective at removing other substances (e.g. oil) that can breed bacteria. When hot water is available, it’s best to use it. Next come turning off the tap, which is simply good for the planet in general, and soap.

Now, this is where it gets a little tricky. In 2016, the FDA released a statement explaining how anti-bacterial soaps and those not specifically labeled as anti-bacterial were no different in their performance. Using any soap and water together is the way to go, regardless of whether it’s marketed as “anti-bacterial” or not. Soap also plays a bit of a mind trick on us. Studies show that when soap is on our hands, we tend to scrub more intensely and for longer than when it’s not.

“Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.”

Making sure the soap reaches all parts of your hands means there’s more of a chance
that friction from scrubbing lifts off any unwanted substances, germs, and bacteria. Pay special attention to underneath your fingernails too. The level of germs under your fingernails can be higher than the level on your toilet seat. Yes, we know how horrific that is which is why we mentioned it.  

“Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.”

This is one of, if not the most important, of the hand washing steps. The 20 seconds may seem arbitrary and “determining the optimal length of time for hand washing is difficult because few studies about the health impacts of altering hand washing times have been done.” However, when comparing shorter bouts of hand washing with ones between 15-30 seconds, the longer stints resulted in fewer contaminants at the end.

It’s also important to mention that length of hand washing should be gauged per situation. The dirtier your hands are or the more likely it was you encountered germs or bacteria, the longer you should wash up. The CDC gives the appropriate example of comparing someone at home making lunch and a surgeon washing up after surgery.

“Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.”

Rinsing after lathering and scrubbing sends all the loosened contaminants on your hands down the drain. Similar to Step 1, rinsing with running water avoids anything harmful living in still sources of water.  

“Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.”

Germs and bacteria like wet hands 1000 times more than dry hands. So, make sure you dry them thoroughly either with an unused towel or by letting them air dry for 20-30 seconds. The best way to dry your hands is still contested, but the action itself is key to coming full circle clean regardless. 

The how behind the hand washing steps

There we have it folks-the why behind the hand washing steps. Now, let’s take a look at the how behind hand washing. Ozark River Manufacturing has been designing and manufacturing portable sinks since 2006, so they know a thing or two about hand hygiene. Their self-contained, on-demand hot water hand washing sinks are out-of-the-box ready and require no plumbing fixtures to operate. This means that hot water hand washing can be anywhere you need it to be, without the hassle and cost of a traditional fixed sink set-up.

With point-of-contact hand washing, like Ozark River Portable Sinks®, all your company or facility has to worry about is the scrubbing up part…not the hand washing code compliance part. Let that sink in!

Thank You