Hand-washing saves lives!

The focus of this blog is the importance of hand-washing.  The subject may seem mundane, boring or ordinary but hand washing behaviour can affect our life outcomes!  This week, we are reminded by World Hand Hygiene Day that in hospitals, proper hand-washing saves lives.  In fact, the World Health Organisation state that most health care infections can be prevented through good hand hygiene practices!  This is particularly important in poorer countries where safe water and soap cannot be taken for granted.  See our social media posts later this week (Facebook, Instagram) and give what you can to our charity partner ‘Just a Drop’

It’s time to become familiar with simple hygiene practices

Few good things have happened since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic but the focus on hand hygiene is definitely positive!  When we are hospital patients, we must rely on proper hand cleaning protocols and their meticulous application by clinical staff.  This is not the same in our daily lives where we have full control over our hand-washing habits.

We have over 130 years of growing understanding about the transmission of germs and the role of hand-washing in reducing their spread.  Even in these early days, surgeons were not keen to accept advice that their hands could be dirty and the social stigma attached to advice on hand-washing persists today.  It is only in times of crisis when a Prime Minister can give advice on proper hand-washing and people do not feel insulted or take offence.  In civilised society the subject of hand-washing has become taboo and with health care improvements over the last few decades, many people had given up on basic hygiene practices altogether.

How have we missed the importance of hand-washing?

In 2013 an important and overlooked book was written by Prof. Dame Sally Davies (then the UK’s Chief Medical Advisor) and colleagues about the global threat of bacteria fighting back and becoming resistant to modern medicine.  In short, their research showed that anti-microbial drugs don’t work!  The first preventative measure to make the drugs work again was to control the spread of infection and the best way to do this was improved hand washing!  Back in 2013, this wasn’t a popular idea and did not hit the headlines.  Here’s what the authors had to say:

“Proper hand-washing with soap and water is the single most important thing you can do to help reduce the spread of infections and help protect you, your family and those around you”, Professor Dame Sally Davies 2013.

By 2016, the message still wasn’t getting through and Professor Wahrman from William Paterson University explained again why hand-washing was a life and death matter.

“Handwashing, as part of basic hygiene, is a no-brainer. Whenever there’s an outbreak of a contagious disease, we are advised that the first line of defense is proper handwashing. Nonetheless, many people, including healthcare workers, ignore this advice and routinely fail to wash their hands”, Professor Miryam Wahrman, 2016.

It is only since Covid-19 paralysed the world, that hand-washing has been taken seriously again.  OnePoll conducted a survey with 2,000 UK adults for Citron Hygiene, which looked at hygiene behaviour before the pandemic, what habits and behaviours have changed and what attitudes people have towards hygiene now and moving forward.   The results showed that since Covid-19, people were washing their hands for longer – up from 13 seconds before Covid to an average of 19 seconds now and more frequently – 8 times daily compared to only 5 times before Covid.  These are important results and show that the Government’s advice has changed our habits.

The future is in our hands

Wash your hands as often as you can and especially before eating, always after going to the loo, after sneezing or coughing and after touching public surfaces such as door handles and before handling food.

Rinsing your hands with water is not enough and cannot guarantee to remove pathogens.  It is necessary to wash your hands with soap.  At home, you can use a bar soap but this is not recommended by health care professionals as there is a risk of contamination with multiple users.  At Greenscents, we use our fabulous liquid all purpose castile soap.  This is a superb hand wash available in minty, lavender or nonscents that can be used by all the family.  The product has 96% certified organic ingredients, is certified palm oil free and is super-concentrated.

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  • How should I wash my hands at home?

Wet your hands and cover all the surfaces of your skin with soapy suds.  Then wet a nail brush and add soap.  Carefully brush along the tops of your fingers and down the sides of your nails.  Washing your hands should take at least 20-30 seconds and all the skin surface should be covered in soap.  Rinse your hands and then dry thoroughly with a clean towel.  The NHS provides useful details on the correct way to wash your hands.

  • If I am out, how should I wash my hands?

When travelling, working, shopping or visiting any public place, hand washing may become more difficult compared to being at home.

Hand sanitisers should be used regularly while travelling. Make sure you cover the entire skin surface of your hands with sanitiser and wait for the product to dry before you start using your hands again.  Please remember that not all alcohol -based sanitisers kill viruses.  As soon as you can, wash your hands with soap and water.

The evidence is clear – hand-washing has the power to save lives. So don’t delay – send the germs down the drain with Greenscents All Purpose Castile Soap!

Further Reading

WHO ‘World Hand Hygiene Day https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-hand-hygiene-day/2021.

Citron Hygiene ‘Coronavirus Attitudes & Hygiene Routines Survey – The Findings Are In’.

‘The drugs don’t work, a global threat’ by Professor Dame Sally C Davies, 2013.


‘The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World’,  Miryam Z Wahrman, 2016


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