Science says we've been washing our hands all wrong?

Have we been washing our hands all wrong? [Photo: Getty]
Have we been washing our hands all wrong? [Photo: Getty]

Washing your hands after you’ve been to the loo has been one of those must-dos drummed into us since toddlerhood. But let’s be honest, though we do mostly always give our hands a rinse after doing our, ahem, business, we’re probably not always being as thorough as we could be.

But now a medical chief has said that everyone should be washing their hands for at least the length of time it takes to sing the first verse of the national anthem. Er, ok.

Deputy chief medical officer, Dr Gina Radford, believes the majority of people aren’t spending long enough or washing their hands in the right way, which is putting them at risk of common infections. Worse still, this failure to carry out what she described as ‘basic hygiene’ is actually contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, which is serious stuff. No jokes.

Speaking at an International Longevity Centre debate in London and reported by Mail Online, Dr Radford said that the rise in antibiotic resistance wasn’t being helped by people not washing their hands properly.

“Some of the prevention [techniques] are really simple things like hand-washing,” she said.

“On a day to day basis, you should wash your hands with soap and water for the length of one verse of God Save the Queen or two times through Happy Birthday. And I can absolutely guarantee that most of us don’t do that. I know because I have observed – and I have observed myself. We don’t do some of this stuff and we are not practicing just some of the most basic hygiene.”

The safe washing message still isn't getting through [Photo: Getty]
The safe washing message still isn’t getting through [Photo: Getty]

With that in mind, we got in touch with our own hygiene expert to find out how we should actually be washing our hands.

“Washing your hands properly is vital to avoid the spread of bacteria and infection,” explains Sade Coady, cleaning expert for

“Remember, after using the bathroom, you have on average 200 million bacteria per square inch on each hand. Taking 20-30 seconds to wash your hands thoroughly will remove this and eliminate the spread of infection.”

According to Sade, though we should be using soap to wash our hands, it doesn’t necessarily have to be antibacterial.

“Despite popular belief, antibacterial soaps are no more effective than plain soap and water for removing bacteria from your hands,” she says.

And Sade believes it’s the quality of your hand washing technique that counts rather than spending lots on expensive branded products.

“For an effective hand wash, ensure that you run your hands under warm or cold water for approximately 10 seconds before applying soap. You should then begin to lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap, ensuring that you are covering the back of your hands, the inside of your fingers and also your nails. Scrub for approximately 20-30 seconds in order to remove bacteria and germs,” she says.

Studies have shown that it takes 20-30 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap in order to effectively kill the germs which cause infection. Failing to do so will only results in the spread of bacteria in almost everything that you come across ranging from your food to your children.”

So there you have it people. No more lazy rinsing.

Do you wash your hands properly? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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