The Benefits of Hand Washing

Recently I’ve been on a bit of a drive to ensure that my kids are more health conscience. Something which I’ve noticed is lacking a bit in their daily lives is hand-washing… often they will sit down to eat supper straight from the garden or sports field with the most filthy looking fingers!! Don’t get me wrong, I send them straight to the sink as I’ve always taught them to wash their hands before meals, but as with most kids, they ALWAYS need reminding.

However it’s not just before meals where they need to remember to wash their sticky paws… it’s also after going to the toilet, blowing their nose or putting something in the bin. And the truth of the matter is that I’m not always there to remind them! Something that I really need to get them to realise is that even if their hands look clean, they aren’t clean!! Unfortunately you can’t see germs.

So I’ve been on a drive to get the message to sink in – once and for all – and have been taking part in Dettol’s #WorryLessLoveMore one week hand washing challenge. As a family we committed to washing our hands before meals, after play, after using the bathroom and after sneezing – always for at least 40 seconds to a minute. And the benefits of this new hand-washing routine? Well I now have less to worry about, my kids are healthier which equals fewer medical bills AND I have more time to do so much more!

The Benefits of Hand Washing

Eliminating germs & reducing illness – Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water — from the common cold to more serious infections, such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, the flu, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhoea. In fact, washing hands with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by up to 45%!

Less time off work & school – Thousands of school and work days are missed every year due to avoidable illness, such as flu or pneumonia, that could be prevented through hand washing. Not only does this put financial strain on families but also impacts the educational development of kids.

Reduced Medical Bills – When kids come into contact with germs, they can unknowingly become sick simply by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. Once they’re infected it’s just a matter of time before the whole family comes down with the same illness, leading to many trips to the doctor and scary medical bills.

And in poorer communities, of which we have many in South Africa, the single biggest benefit of hand washing is, in fact, longer life! Simply teaching kids to wash their hands with soap after using the toilet could help millions of kids around the world reach their fifth birthday due to the fact that they don’t contract preventable life-threatening diseases such as diarrhoea. A sobering thought.

hand washing

As you can see, washing your hands correctly and teaching your kids to do the same, is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself against a number of infectious diseases, such as the common cold. The reason for this is because when people sneeze or cough, their germs are expelled into the air in tiny droplets. If these droplets get onto your hands via the air or something that you touch (the toys in doctor’s waiting rooms, public bathroom door handles and shopping trolleys freak me out!!), and then you touch your mouth, eyes or nose without removing the germs through hand-washing, you carry the infection. Washing your hands not only prevents you from getting sick, but it also reduces the risk of infecting others.

When to Wash Hands

Before eating and cooking
After using the bathroom
After cleaning anything
After touching animals, including family pets
Before and after visiting sick people
After being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.)
After blowing your (or someone else’s) nose, coughing or sneezing (Remember when you cough or sneeze not do it into your hand but to rather use a tissue or raise your arm up to your face and aim for your sleeve. And throw away tissues as soon as you use them!)

Proper Method of Hand Washing

Remove any hand or arm jewellery
Use soap and running water
Wash your hands frequently throughout the day
Washing should last for at least 20 seconds, preferably a minute.
Lather for 15 seconds
Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails
Rinse your hands well under warm running water
Wipe and dry your hands gently with a paper towel or clean towel.
Turn off the tap using the paper towel so that you do not re-contaminate your hands.
When using a public bathroom, use the same paper towel to open the door when you leave.
If dryness is a problem, use a moisturizing hand lotion.
Antibacterial soap is not necessary for safe, effective hand hygiene.

Don’t underestimate the power of hand washing! The few seconds you spend at the sink could save you trips to the doctor’s office.


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Dettol believes in educating children and adults about health and hygiene so moms can worry less and love more. Follow #WorryLessLoveMore on social media for more about this campaign.

Images: Dettol

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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

  1. I am an OBSESSIVE hand-washer, K. Thanks so much for the great post highlighting the BENEFITS of my obsession LOL LOVE it!

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