[Updated 13 October 2023]
Growing up I am sure many of us can remember being told to wash our hands, especially after using the bathroom, being outside or before preparing or eating food. In all cases, it is essential to practise proper handwashing techniques and learn these from a young age.
The Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly highlighted the importance of good hand hygiene. In the Global Hygiene Reset Report conducted by Initial Washroom Hygiene, 74% of global respondents indicated that they are now more aware of germ hotspots than they were before the pandemic.
Heightened knowledge about handwashing and the link to infection has made us more aware of the infections and diseases that can be spread by not washing your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, and when preparing food for others.
Norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans and it can affect people of all ages. It’s often transmitted when people don’t wash their hands and worryingly, it can spread very quickly within large groups of people in close quarters. This is why when one person gets ill, entire households or offices often catch it too.
66% people are likely to wash their hands more in the future to protect against other common viruses such as norovirus and the common cold, than before the pandemic.Initial Hygiene’s Global Hygiene Reset Report
The best way to stop norovirus from spreading or occurring in the first place is to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and then dry thoroughly, and if that is not possible to sanitise with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, and to avoid touching your nose and mouth.
Respiratory illnesses are usually spread via droplets which are breathed, sneezed or coughed into the air by someone who has the illness. While sneezing and coughing help to spread illnesses, poor hand washing techniques are a big culprit as well.
Common respiratory illnesses caused by poor hand hygiene include the common cold, influenza, chicken pox and meningitis.
Nosocomial infections (those originating in a healthcare setting)
We often hear of infections being transmitted in hospitals and this is often the result of staff and patients not washing their hands. Hospitals are, by nature, a potential source of infectious pathogens and if staff don’t wash their hands between seeing patients or if people with an infection aren’t practising good hand hygiene, they can very easily pass their illness onto others.
Some of the most common nosocomial infections, which can be spread by germs on our hands include MRSA and E.coli.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection which can cause severe symptoms including problems with the liver, jaundice, abdominal pain, fever and fatigue. It’s often spread via food which has been contaminated by people preparing it who haven’t washed their hands after using the bathroom.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, digesting even microscopic traces of contaminated faecal matter can cause transmission of the disease.
The impact of Coronavirus in hand hygiene practices
Coronavirus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. Another person can then contract the virus when infectious particles that pass through the air are inhaled at short range (this is often called airborne transmission).
How we protect ourselves in terms of hand hygiene has become a vital part of the current world we live in. Many people now understand that hand hygiene is an essential way of protecting themselves from person-to-person transmission via hand contact and surfaces which may have been contaminated with viruses.
In terms of proper hand hygiene practices, our Global Hygiene Reset Report indicates that:
- 71% are now more fearful of the spread of germs via the surfaces they touch than before the Coronavirus pandemic.
- 74% are now more concerned that other peoples’ poor hand hygiene could put their health at risk than before the pandemic.
See our range of hand hygiene solutions to help prevent the person-to-person transmission of illnesses.
Watch our webinar on identifying germ hotspots, breaking the chain of transmission and urban myths around hand hygiene.
Presented by Dr Colm Moore, BSc, PhD, CSHW (IOSH) Area Technical Manager, Rentokil Initial, UK, Ireland and the Baltics and Jamie Woodhall, BSc Innovation and Technical Manager, Rentokil Initial.
Are you washing your hands correctly?
Did you know that 1 in 4 people don’t wash their hands every time they visit the washroom?
One of the biggest issues in shared areas when proper handwashing techniques are not used, is that cross contamination can occur and germs can be left behind on items that users of the shared space have previously touched.
For example, if a person has not washed their hands and then proceeds to use a door handle, other people may then touch the same door handle and if they then go on to touch their nose or mouth, it would be quite easy for an infection to be transmitted to them. Likewise, preparing food without practising proper handwashing techniques can pose a risk to those who consume the food that has been prepared.
Here are some key steps for washing hands:
Many people now understand that hand hygiene is an essential way of protecting themselves from person-to-person transmission via hand contact and contaminated surfaces. As the experts in hygiene, we recommend practising good handwashing techniques as it is one of the easiest and most effective ways of preventing illnesses from spreading. This is something that is particularly important in the workplace where large groups of people could catch the same infection.
For more information about Initial’s hand hygiene and infection control solutions, please feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help.