5 Common Hand-Washing Mistakes you Should Avoid

Washing hands sounds like it should be the easiest thing in the world. With the widespread of Coronavirus, we must protect ourselves as the health bodies have instructed us, by washing our hands properly. Apart from protecting ourselves against Coronavirus, washing hands the best way helps to stop the spread of other germs. Your hands contain all sorts of bacteria that aren’t seen with bare eyes. However, don’t worry, it’s not too late to refresh your hands washing technique. Note that washing your hands with soap and water is better than using sanitizer, although when you’re on the go, you can go ahead and sanitizer instead. Now, let’s look at the hand wash mistakes you might be making.

Not Washing for Long Enough

The CDC recommends that you wash your hands for not less than 20 seconds. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health by Michigan State University found that 95 percent of people don’t take enough time to wash their hands to kill germs. Shorter periods of time may not be effective in eliminating all germs.

After wetting your hands and applying soap, hum the “Happy birthday” song, which helps to track the time spend. Then rub your hands together vigorously throughout the entire song to allow enough time for the soap to activate and kill germs. Health practitioners are urging people to come up with inspiration handwashing tunes as a way of promoting proper handwashing routine.

You Don’t Dry Your Hands Thoroughly

Even after washing your hands for 20 seconds, if you don’t dry them well the entire process becomes useless. If you’re the type of person that simply shakes your hands dry, know that you’re potentially spreading the bacteria. Wet hands make it easier to transfer bacteria to other surfaces or back to your hands. Also, when you dry your hands you get rid of the bacteria that could be lingering. Use a clean dry towel or an air dryer. Don’t be in a rush, take your time to ensure your hands are dry before leaving the restroom.

You’re Not Washing Enough

Some people only wash their hands after using the restroom, which isn’t enough to keep the germs at bay. Wash your hands all the time after touching public surfaces like elevator buttons, a doorknob, the ATM, the subway pole, or whenever you feel like your hands are dirty. More so during this Coronavirus period washing your hands is very crucial. If you don’t have access to water, at least carry an alcohol-based sanitizer.

There are specific times when you should wash your hand according to the CDC. These are the key times:

  • Before, during, and after preparing or eating food.
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • Before and after caring for someone who’s sick
  • After touching garbage.
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

Using Antibacterial Soap

You might be thinking that antibacterial soaps are more effective than regular soaps. However, the FDA and CDC recommend washing your hands using regular soap and water to kill germs and prevent their spread. Antibacterial soaps are linked to drug-resistant bacteria, and they contain chemicals that irritate the skin. What’s more, there are no proven benefits of using antibacterial soaps. Some of these soaps contain an ingredient called triclosan which is very harmful to human health. Go through consumer updates from the FDA site and you’ll have an insight on which soaps to avoid.

You’re Not Washing Your Hands’ Towel More Often

Whenever you wash your hands at home, either in the kitchen or bathroom, it’s advisable you dry them with a clean towel. Bacteria multiply and thrive in warm, damp places. A wet towel that hasn’t been washed in a while tends to be the perfect hideout for the germs. A study that analyzed bacteria on 82 household kitchen hand towels concluded that Coliform bacteria were present in 89 percent and E.coli in 25.6 percent of the towels. The presence of E.coli was related to the frequency of washing.

Always wash your bathroom and kitchen towels often and don’t let them stay wet. Just to be safe, you should wash your towels after about two days of use, especially during this COVID season. Use hot water when washing the towels, since it’s likely that some bacteria can survive a regular wash.


Doctors say that viruses and bacteria can be resilient, so we need to be persistent. Following proper hands washing routine is the only effective way to help prevent the spread of germs. Otherwise, pay attention when you’re washing your hands and you’ll be able to protect yourselves and those around you.

All images by Shutterstock


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