Health

You’ve Probably Been Washing Your Hands The Wrong Way This Whole Time

Chances are you're missing the most important part.

When it comes time to lather up and wash our hands, most of us crank up the water temperature. After all, if you want to kill germs, you have to use hot water, right?

Wrong. In fact, a recent study has found that the temperature of the water you wash with doesn’t really matter… all that matters is how long you wash. The study, which was led by researchers at Rutgers University, surprisingly found that the only thing that matters when it comes to germ-killing is how long you lather. It doesn’t matter how long you rinse or how high you crank up the heat: All that matters is how long you scrub up.

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This is line with previous research that shows only 5 percent of us wash our hands long enough to kill harmful germs. It takes 20 seconds of hand-scrubbing to effectively kill germs, but the average person only suds up for six seconds!

And here is another scary thought: A lot of us aren’t washing our hands after we use the bathroom. A 2003 American Society of Microbiology study found that only 30 percent of people in NYC airport bathrooms were washing their hands. Um… what!?

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I maybe understand skipping the suds if you are in your own house for a quick “number one,” but to skip it in a airport bathroom? That’s a bit much.

And, now that we know that we don’t have to use hot water, we really have no excuse not to scrub up. Not only are we going to save energy by not waiting for the water to heat up, but hand washing also has a massive positive impact on the economy. According to the Global Handwashing Partnership, hand washing is “one of the most cost-effective investments in public health,” as it helps to prevent the spread of germs and infectious diseases.

Who knew? Now, go wash your hands!

[h/t: Quartz]