Washing hands in cold water as good as hot

03 June, 2017, 02:04 | Author: Lorraine Moran
  • Most people believe that using hot water is more effective than warm room temperature or cold water but this study suggests there is a lack of evidence to back that

Water temperature as high as 38°C and as low as 15°C did not have a significant effect on the reduction of bacteria during hand washing, said the researchers.

The Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom just states that they must provide washbasins for cleaning hands must have hot and cold running water, soap and materials for hygienic drying.

Surely even the laziest among us - those who give their hands a cursory rinse, or worse, don't wash them at all - can manage a piddling 10 seconds.

Prof. Donald Schaffner and his team of researchers say their study could help cut down wasted energy used for heating water for handwashing in food establishments where the FDA strictly enforces the regulation.

"People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands but as far as effectiveness, this study shows us that the temperature of the water used didn't matter", Professor Schaffner said. Then, they washed using 60-degree, 79-degree or 100-degree water and 0.5 ml, 1 ml or 2 ml of soap.

However, the researchers accept their study is small and say more extensive work is needed to determine the best ways to remove harmful bacteria.

They discovered that washing in cold water removes just as many germs as hot.

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"Also, we learned even washing for 10 seconds significantly removed bacteria from the hands", he said in a university news release. Each of the volunteers washed their hands 20 times over a 6-month period. It emphasizes that hands should be washed and rubbed vigorously for at least 20 seconds - as long as singing "Happy Birthday" twice, and that enough soap should be used to cover the whole surface of both hands.

These findings are significant for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which issues guidelines to states once in every four years.

"The literature on hand washing includes a tremendous amount of misinformation, and data on many issues are missing", they wrote in the new study.

The only other improvement in bacteria reduction came from a 20-second lather time using bland soap compared to the basic 5-second wash.

Hand washing is the simplest, most basic way to stay healthy. Just make sure to wash your hands.

Most of us are taught that washing hands with hot water and soap is key to keeping germs at bay. Professor Schaffner stated that there should be a change of policy in regards to handwashing policy in the workplace. Businesses would save money and not waste as much energy, he argued, if the revised handwashing policy was followed.


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