The photos showed how much of a difference it makes to rinse your hands for six seconds, or to scrub them with soap and water for 30 seconds.
All of us (hopefully) wash our hands daily, and yet it’s rare to see somebody standing at the sink next to you do a full 20- to 30-second lather and scrub, as we’re now all being advised to do by health officials.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.
Why? Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs, like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried.
If you’re finding it challenging to get into the habit of washing for longer, the actress Kristen Bell has some inspiration for you.
On Wednesday, Bell posted a series of photos on Instagram that her mom had sent her, showing her hands at different stages of cleanliness.
Using a UV light and a cream called Glo-Germ — a mineral oil that simulates germs, and is only visible under a UV light — she was able to capture how much dirt was on her hands, even though they seemed clean to the naked eye.
It showed a dramatic difference between the potency of a six-second wash with soap and a 15-second wash with soap.
Though more similar, there was also a marked difference between a 15-second wash with soap and a 30-second one: After 15 seconds, Bell’s mom still had some stubborn traces of bacteria stuck in the wrinkles of her fingers and her knuckles, which faded after a 30-second scrub.
CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because hand washing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands. But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
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