META: Washing your hands may be a part of your daily life, but did you know there are many facts about this process that can open your eyes to this part of your regular routine? Learn some amazing, interesting, and even alarming facts about hand washing that will change the way you think about it forever.

Hand Washing Facts You Didn't Know

We have all washed our hands at some point; it is just a part of daily life. Since you were a child, you have probably had it drilled into you to wash your hands after using the bathroom. You may have been taught to always wash up for dinner as well. If your hands get dirty, you wash them. It just is part of your routine every day.

You may not give it much thought; it may just be so routine at this point. However, there are many hand washing facts that you may not know or things about hand washing that you may not understand. The following provides a look into the secret side of hand washing where there lurk facts and ideas about this process that you probably do not know.

Health Facts


The main reason you wash your hands is to get rid of germs and bacteria that could make you sick. Here are some facts related to hand washing and your health:

Your hands transmit a lot of germs and bacteria. Touching someone or something is the cause for eight out of ten infections. This is especially true when it comes to colds and the flu, which are easily transmitted through touch. For example, if a sick person touched a doorknob, then you touch the doorknob and subsequently touch your mouth, you have just transmitted that person's germs into your body.

Hand washing guidelines are fairly easy to learn, but most people are still doing it wrong. In fact, 70 percent of people do not properly wash their hands. Neglecting to follow hand-washing guidelines can reduce the effectiveness of the washing, leaving germs behind.

There are two layers of bacteria on your hands. Transient flora is on the surface of your skin and is easily removed by washing. Resident flora is found in the deep layers of your skin and may not be completely removed through washing.

Antibacterial soap is not better than any other soap. It may actually be harmful, by causing sex hormone changes.

Soap does not always result in better hand washing.  If soap is stored incorrectly, such as bar soap sitting in a puddle of water or using refillable soap dispensers without cleaning them, it can actually introduce more bacteria to your skin than it kills.

The takeaway here is that you should wash your hands to get rid of germs that can make you sick, but that you may not be washing the right way.

Technical Facts

steps in proper handwashing

As mentioned, washing your hands can get a little technical. You should always follow the guidelines to ensure you are doing it correctly. Here are some technical facts to keep in mind:

To effectively wash your hands, you should scrub for at least 30 seconds. This is also true if using an antibacterial gel.

In fact, gels that contain alcohol work better than using soap to clean your hands.

The water temperature is not a factor in how effective your washing routine is. You should use whatever temperature feels good to you.

Using cold water to wash your hands is better for your skin because it isn't as drying or harsh as hot water.

Soap does not kill the germs. It is actually the hand washing process of rubbing your hands together that kills the bacteria. All soap does is help loosen germs to more easily remove them from your skin.

The dirtiest parts of your hands are the nail area and the fingertips. Because of this, you should pay more attention to these areas than the palms of your hands.

It has been shown that people tend to wash their non-dominant hand more thoroughly than their dominant hand. This means that if you are right-handed, you probably wash your left hand better. The problem is, you probably touch more things and get more germs on your right hand. So, pay special attention when you wash to give each hand the right amount of attention.

The takeaway from these facts is that you need to learn how to properly wash your hands to ensure it is as effective as possible.

Alarming Facts

hands in glow light

Not every fact about hand washing is fun or informative. Some of them are downright alarming. Here's a look at some scary facts about hand washing that may make you think twice before skipping a wash:

It is pretty standard knowledge that everyone should wash their hands after using the bathroom. The germs in this situation are astounding. However, statistics show that a large number of people do not wash their hands after going to the bathroom. Think of all those germs spread because of this lack of basic hygiene.

Hand washing guidelines are fairly easy to learn, but most people are still doing it wrong. In fact, 70 percent of people do not properly wash their hands. Neglecting to follow hand-washing guidelines can reduce the effectiveness of the washing, leaving germs behind.

Improper hand washing may have led to the death of President James Garfield. While the official cause of death was from a gunshot wound, experts now think it was actually the dirty hands of the medical professionals that were responsible. The president died from an infection three months after being treated for the gunshot wound, which he likely got from their dirty hands.

The takeaway here is that not everyone who should is washing their hands, so trust nobody and wash your hands properly.


Final Thoughts

Washing your hands is a little more complicated than you may have thought. It isn't just a  simple process. It actually can save lives. Think about everything you touch each day and who else has touched those things. It can be enough to make you start a more intensive hand washing routine. Just washing your hands regularly before eating or after touching things that many others have touched can help you to be healthier. So, the next time you wash your hands, think about all these amazing facts you just learned.