How to Wash Your Hands


We can’t kill all the germs.  We shouldn’t even want to.  Finally, we are starting to remember that bacteria was here long before us and it supports our life on earth as well as the life of our cells.  So then, how do we protect ourselves and our loved ones from the bad bacteria that are lurking around every corner just waiting to jump into our mouths and noses and make us sick while preserving balance of the good, friendly type that help us to digest our food, absorb nutrients and protect our skin?

Easy.  Live your life, protect the integrity of your skin, and WASH YOUR HANDS.

How to wash your hands, removing the germs while preserving the skin’s integrity

1. Use the correct temperature.  Cold water won’t get your hands as clean and hot water will strip your skin’s natural oils and along with it, your skin’s natural defense barrier.  Find a good in-between for yourself. Keep in mind that toddlers and babies are much more likely to be scalded by hot tap water.  It’s a very good idea to keep your hot water heater set to a maximum temperature of 120 degrees F. (Even though this temperature can result in 3rd degree burns in about a 10 minute exposure.  I prefer to keep ours at 110.)  I recommend that you keep your hand washings, baths and showers just under 100 degrees.  (Our pain threshold is about 106).

2. Use a gentle, yet effective cleanser. Caustic soaps strip your skin and cause breakages (such as hangnails) leaving your defenses (once again) open to infections from fungi, bacteria and viruses.  Don’t use “anti-bacterial cleansers” which contain triclosan and SLS. USE REAL SOAP.  Those alcohol cleansers that kill germs on the surface don’t CLEAN anything.  There may be a place for them, but it is NOT to replace real hand-washing.  Did I mention that we make an amazing castile soap free of artificial chemicals and have even put it in a take-along self-foaming bottle?

3. Time does matter!  10 to 20 seconds is optimal.  That’s just enough time to sing a verse of “You Are My Sunshine” at a reasonable pace.  (Speaking of, Vered has a great upbeat version that works well…)  You may think that the longer you do it, the better.  I say “Just don’t go overboard.”

4. Get all of the surfaces. Work out a system (or steal one from the many versions on Youtube) and do it the same way every time.  Make it a 10-20 second meditation.  I could give you specific directions, but really…do you need them?

5. Dry your hands.  Watch this video to learn how.  I love this!

Art by Molly Watman