Why Handwashing Makes Us Healthier

Handwashing is a simple and effective way to prevent the spread of germs and keep ourselves and others healthy. Handwashing can protect us from many diseases and infections, such as COVID-19, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, and skin and eye infections. Handwashing can also save lives, especially among children, who are more vulnerable to the effects of poor hygiene. In this article, we will explore the benefits of handwashing, the best practices for handwashing, and the resources and opportunities for promoting handwashing around the world.

The benefits of handwashing

Handwashing with soap and water can remove germs from our hands and prevent them from entering our bodies or being transmitted to others. Germs can get onto our hands from various sources, such as feces, animals, food, or surfaces, and can cause various diseases and infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu. Handwashing can also prevent other infections that affect the skin and eyes, such as trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide.

Handwashing can also have economic and social benefits, as it can reduce the costs and consequences of diseases and infections. Handwashing can reduce the need for health care, medication, and hospitalization, and save money and resources for individuals, families, and communities. Handwashing can also reduce absenteeism and improve productivity and performance for students, workers, and caregivers. Handwashing can also improve the quality of life and well-being for people, as it can enhance their self-esteem, dignity, and confidence.

The best practices for handwashing

To get the most benefits from handwashing, we need to follow some best practices and guidelines. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially in the following situations:

  • Before, during, and after preparing or eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a wound or a cut
  • After using the toilet, changing a diaper, or cleaning a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling garbage
  • After touching potentially contaminated surfaces or objects, such as doorknobs, railings, or shopping carts

When washing our hands, we should follow these steps:

  • Wet our hands with clean, running water, and apply soap
  • Rub our hands together to create a lather, and scrub all parts of our hands, including the palms, backs, fingers, thumbs, nails, and wrists
  • Rinse our hands well under clean, running water
  • Dry our hands using a clean towel, paper towel, or air dryer

If soap and water are not available, we can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. However, hand sanitizers are not as effective as soap and water in removing all types of germs, and they may not work well if our hands are visibly dirty or greasy. Therefore, we should always prefer soap and water whenever possible.

The resources and opportunities for promoting handwashing

Despite its importance and benefits, handwashing is still not practiced widely and consistently around the world. According to the WHO, about 1.8 billion people lack basic hygiene services (handwashing facility with soap and water), and 1.6 billion people have access to handwashing facilities that lack water or soap. Moreover, many people do not have the knowledge, awareness, or motivation to wash their hands properly and frequently.

To address these challenges and promote handwashing, we need to take advantage of the resources and opportunities available to us. Some of the resources and opportunities for promoting handwashing are:

  • The [Quit Smoking Community] website, can help us quit smoking and improve our health and hygiene. Smoking can harm our health and performance, as it can increase our blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels, and reduce our oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Quitting smoking can improve our physical and mental health, and reduce our risk of various diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. The Quit Smoking Community website can provide us with information, advice, support, and resources to help us quit smoking successfully.
  • The [Headspace] app, which can help us meditate and relax, and clear our minds and thoughts. Meditation can help us lower our cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve our blood flow and oxygen delivery. Meditation can also help us reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve our mood, memory, and cognition. Meditation can be done anywhere and anytime, and for as long or as short as we want. We can also use guided meditations, such as the ones provided by the Headspace app, to help us get started and stay focused.
  • The [Fitness Blender] website, which can help us exercise and eat a healthy diet. Exercise and diet can help us improve our physical and mental health, and boost our energy and mood. Exercise can help us lower our cholesterol and blood pressure, improve our blood flow and oxygen delivery, and release endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood boosters. Exercise can also help us reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve our mood, memory, and cognition. We should exercise at least three times a week, for at least 30 minutes each time, and at a moderate intensity. We can also use online programs, such as the ones provided by the Fitness Blender website, to help us plan and follow an exercise routine. We should also eat a balanced and nutritious diet, that is low in saturated and trans fats, and high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant sterols. We should also avoid or limit foods or substances that can harm our health, such as red meat, processed meat, full-fat dairy products, refined carbohydrates, added sugars, caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco. We should also drink plenty of water, to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration or heat exhaustion.
  • The [Hobby Lobby] website, which can help us pursue our hobbies and interests. Hobbies and interests can help us relax and enjoy ourselves, and express our emotions and creativity. Hobbies and interests can also help us distract ourselves from our worries and problems, and make us happy and fulfilled. We can pursue any activities that we like and that suit our personality, such as reading, writing, painting, gardening, or playing music. We can also use online resources, such as the ones provided by the Hobby Lobby website, to help us find and pursue our hobbies and interests.
  • The World Hand Hygiene Day, which is celebrated every year on May 5th, and aims to raise awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing. The World Hand Hygiene Day is organized by the WHO, and involves various activities and events, such as campaigns, workshops, seminars, or conferences, that can provide us with information, advice, and networking opportunities. The World Hand Hygiene Day also encourages us to take action and pledge to improve our handwashing practices and habits, and to spread the message and inspire others to do the same.

Why handwashing makes us healthier is a question that many people may not think about, but it is a very important one. Handwashing is a simple and effective way to prevent the spread of germs and keep ourselves and others healthy. Handwashing can protect us from many diseases and infections, such as COVID-19, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, and skin and eye infections. Handwashing can also save lives, especially among children, who are more vulnerable to the effects of poor hygiene. Handwashing can also have economic and social benefits, as it can reduce the costs and consequences of diseases and infections. Handwashing can also improve the quality of life and well-being for people, as it can enhance their self-esteem, dignity, and confidence. To get the most benefits from handwashing, we need to follow some best practices and guidelines, and to take advantage of the resources and opportunities available to us. By doing so, we can make handwashing a part of our daily routine, and enjoy a healthier and happier life.