Unhand the Germs!

— Written By and last updated by

Flu season is here. Research indicates that there are several preventative measures you can take to reduce spreading germs. Proper handwashing is one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs. Another step you can take to prevent the flu is to disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

person washing hands with soapCheck you handwashing knowledge against the information provided by the CDC:

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap. Why? Because hands could become contaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been previously contaminated. Warm water does not affect microbe removal.
  • Using soap is more effective than using water alone since soap helps to lift and remove microbes from the skin.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap, including the backs of your hands and in between fingers and don’t forget to thoroughly wash fingernails. Why? Rubbing and scrubbing your hands helps to create friction which lift dirt, grease and germs.
  • The globally recognized time for handwashing is at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands under clean running water. Why? Rinsing the germs and dirt that was lifted during scrubbing is essential to reducing the risk for illness and it rinses away the soap to also prevent any skin irritation.
  • Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands. Hands should be dried after washing using a clean towel.

Make sure you know the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing:

Disinfecting, which is also referred to as antimicrobial or antibacterial, is destroying or killing most germs on any surface – i.e., making sterile. This is appropriate for non-porous surfaces such as diaper change tables, counter tops, handles, toilets, and sinks.

Sanitizing is reducing germs to a level considered safe by public health codes or regulation. This is appropriate for food contact surfaces, toys and pacifiers.

To tell the difference, look for the words “disinfect”, “disinfectant,” “antibacterial” or “sanitize” on the label, as well as an EPA registration number, as this ensures that the product has met EPA requirements for killing germs.

For food handling: Sanitize countertop surfaces after they have been washed, especially when potential contaminants have been used (such as raw meat) – this is most likely once a day or more.