Which Is the Best Hand Wash?

Reviewed on 3/12/2021
Handwashing is an important step when controlling infections and for personal hygiene.
Handwashing is an important step when controlling infections and for personal hygiene.

The best hand wash may need to meet the below conditions:

  • It may need to contain different fixings in combination, for example, glycerin, lemongrass, and neem extract.
  • It should be reliable and must be able to kill 99-100% of germs in a single wash. Antimicrobial hand wash solutions may need to have either of these combinations: chlorhexidine gluconate, povidone-iodine, and triclosan.
  • The best hand wash must keep your skin pH balanced and should keep your skin smooth even after multiple uses.
  • Most of the best hand washes may be infused with delightful yet skin-friendly aromas.
  • It should produce good lather while washing hands.
  • Healthcare providers should use the best hand wash that is infused with an alcohol-based formulation. It is faster, more effective, and better tolerated by the hands. Alcohol-based hand decontaminants contain one or a combination of ethyl alcohol (ethanol), isopropyl (isopropanol), and N-propanol. Solutions of 60-90% are most effective.

Why should I wash my hands?

Handwashing is an important step when controlling infections and for personal hygiene. Handwashing is recommended

  • Before touching your eyes, nose, mouth, or face.
  • When your hands are visibly soiled.
  • After using the washroom (includes changing diapers or assisting a person when using the toilet).
  • After blowing your nose or after sneezing in your hands.
  • Before and after eating, handling food, preparing meals, drinking, or smoking.
  • After touching raw meat, poultry, or fish.
  • After handling garbage or contact with contaminated surfaces such as garbage bins or dirty clothes.
  • After visiting or caring for sick people.
  • After wiping another person's nose or handling soiled tissues.
  • Before preparing or taking medications.
  • When caring for another person who is sick, including after contact with blood or body fluids such as vomit or saliva.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.
  • Before inserting and removing contact lenses.
  • After handling pets, animals, or animal waste.
  • After handling pet food or pet treats.

During a pandemic, it is also important to clean your hands regularly, including the situations listed above and after you have been in a public space or business (grocery store, pharmacy, etc.) or touched a surface that is frequently touched by other people such as doors, payment machines, and gas pumps.

Use warm running water where possible for comfort. Hands should be washed for a minimum of 20 seconds all together (rinsing and lathering) and longer if the hands are visibly soiled. 

For effective handwashing, follow these steps:

  • Remove any rings or other jewelry on your hands or wrist.
  • Turn on the water tap and wet your hands thoroughly.
  • Use a good hand wash (1-3 mL) and lather very well.
  • Lather with soap for at least 20 seconds make sure you wash all your fingers and thumbs, between your fingers, under your fingernails, front and back of your hands, wrists, and forearms.
  • Rinse thoroughly under clean, running water. Use a rubbing motion to remove all soap residues.
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel or clean towel or using an air dryer. Single-use paper towels or clean towels are usually preferred.
  • If available, turn off the taps/faucets with a paper towel (so you do not re-contaminate your hands).
  • Protect your hands from touching dirty surfaces as you leave the bathroom. For example, use the same paper towel to open the door.

Other tips include:

  • Cover cuts with bandages and wear gloves for added protection (cuts are susceptible to infections and are an easy way for pathogens to get into your body).
  • Artificial nails and chipped nail polish have been associated with an increase in the number of bacteria on fingernails. Be sure to clean the nails properly.
  • Liquid soap in disposable containers is the best.
  • If your skin becomes dry, use a moisturizing lotion after washing your hands.

Here are some of the interesting facts about handwashing observed globally:

  • One can avoid about 50% of hospital-acquired infections if they follow hand hygiene protocols.
  • Contaminated hands can transfer the virus to over 5 surfaces or 10 objects.
  • If your hands are damp, then beware because they spread 1,000 times more bacteria than dry and clean hands.
  • The bacteria around you can stay alive for up to 3 hours; this explains why handwashing is considered primarily important.
  • Handwashing can reduce gastrointestinal (GI) illness-related school absenteeism by 25-55%.
  • It can control diarrhea-based GI illness by 55% among people who have weak immune systems.
  • It can minimize respiratory illnesses by 15-20%.

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References
Hand Hygiene: Why, How & When? https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Hand_Hygiene_Why_How_and_When_Brochure.pdf

WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care: First Global Patient Safety Challenge Clean Care Is Safer Care. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK144035/

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