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          hand hygiene for families : the why and the how

Read this article by our resident Mom Hayley Hoffman to learn why we need to wash our hands, and how we do it right

helping hands

Hand hygiene has always been an essential and regular part of healthy habits and child education for parents. COVID-19 made an entrance into our communities, changing our lives forever and escalating the conversation on the role it plays day-to-day. It feels like now more than ever, something simple could help you and those around you. So, let us dive into the specifics of hand hygiene.

everything I learned about hand hygiene, I learned from McDreamy

We have seen the Hollywood version of doctors scrubbing down their hands and arms loaded with tight foam and bubbles while having an idyll chit chat and gossip with a colleague. The scene seems to go on a long time, and now that we have a look, it looks pretty accurate to the CDC’s recommendation. The CDC is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a national public health institute in the United States that defines hand hygiene to clean hands through two methods to reduce the risk of transmitting infections between patients and health care personnel.  

Millennials have Dr. Mc Dreamy and Dr. Doug Ross to thank for all the tutorials in the handwashing department. All those hours of watching them wash their hands have us better prepared for a time when handwashing could help save a life. Just like those two handsome devils to anticipate our needs…I digress…

so tell me, how does soap get rid of germs?

Even though the CDC’s recommendations are for patients and healthcare personnel, families can implement these practices to reduce the spread of germs, bugs, pathogens and other harmful microorganisms (You know, the tiny guys that make their way into our bodies, attack, and make us sick). These little guys make their way into our bodies through touching our eyes, mouth, and nose. Think about it, it takes moisture for these guys to travel. When they come into contact with a moist surface on the body, they can hop off the skin and attach themselves to the wet surface for a nice swim. Gross, but true! That is why washing hands is so essential to prevent getting sick.

In light of COVID, washing hands is highly recommended due to the body structure of the virus, basically an oily layer that protects it called a lipid membrane. Human skin is also protected by a lipid bilayer membrane, which regulates our water loss and protects us from the outside environment. Soap is created through a mixture of water liking (hydrophilic) and oil liking (lipophilic) ingredients. The oil liking ingredients in soap attach themselves to the oil membranes of the COVID-19 virus, so it literally comes apart. Then the water liking ingredients eat the virus fragments like a yummy snack, enveloping them to wash down the drain.  Now, doesn’t that sound fun? Ask your children to give the soap a yummy germ snack, instead of the germs snacking inside their body and multiplying!

An illustration of how soap interacts with COVID-19

the Mom's guide on when to wash your hands

As a mom, I was teaching my children to wash their hands during the following times:

  • Before and after using the restroom

  • Before and after preparing food and eating

  • After touching raw meat

  • After coming into contact with animal care like scooping the kitty litter and doggie doo

I have also added more occasions during these unprecedented times, such as returning home from public places. The CDC has some more detailed guidelines and suggestions, then my mom survival handwashing protocol. This poster from is a useful starting resource for you and your children.

but I need to know... how do I REALLY wash my hands??

Until a few months ago, I did not realize I was doing it wrong… I felt like Jack from Mr. Mom. “Jack, you’re doing it wrong.” I mean, there are a lot of things I am probably doing wrong, but I thought for sure after almost 38 years I knew how to wash my hands…WRONG!  

As another deferral to the CDC, follow these five steps to properly wash your hands.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Hmmm, now it is all coming back to me why the Hollywood docs are washing to get juicier dialogue tidbits and part of a real-life protocol! I consistently skimped on numero tres; scrub hands for at least 20 seconds, so my family and I are trying to get better at this. Tools like singing “Happy Birthday” two times, setting a timer, and such are ok, but honestly, the coolest thing I have come across is nrtrd care soap with the time and song all-in-one. Song lyrics that instruct you and your kids how to scrub their hands, AND they even have a cool decal to put on your mirror to help with the directions. I mean, how easy can it get?  

go on, make the world a safer place

Hopefully, you learned a little about the importance of how the simplicity of washing your hands can help you be good to yourself and those around you along with some practical tools and education.  Now get to washing your hands, do a dance, feel the love…and try not to touch your face.  (Thank you again CDC).

Written By Hayley Hoffman – mom and Beauty Industry professional

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