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 the video below to learn how. I love this!
Art by Molly Watman
Why We’re Anti-Anti-Bacterial
“Kills 99% of Bacteria.” Sounds good, right? We’ve become thoroughly convinced that we need to kill the wicked bacteria, primarily by washing with hand soap loaded up with triclosan, a pesticide that has become ubiquitous in our homes, bodies, and environment. In tests on humans, it shows up in urine, blood, even breast milk. Gross. A survey by the U.S. CDC found the chemical present in the urine of 75 percent of Americans over the age of 5. It’s the active ingredient in most commercial handsoaps which claim to be “anti-bacterial.” As triclosan is increasingly scrutinized in scientific studies, the results are foreboding. Here’s an overview of the toxicity issues surrounding this chemical:
1. Impaired cardiac and skeletal muscle contraction in animal studies.
2. Endocrine disruption in animal studies (same issues as BPA plastics) meaning it mimics hormones when in our bodies.
3. Concerns of creating bacterial resistance leading to Super Bacteria that will eventually kill us all.
4. Mixing with tap water produces chloroform, a known carcinogen. Guess you should hold your breath while washing your hands.
5. Exposure to sunlight causes the formation of toxic dioxins. Research “dioxins” if you want to stay up at night worrying about the future.
6. Extremely persistent and highly destructive in the marine environment, which is where triclosan ends up when we use it in soap.
7. Possibility of increased allergies & decreased immune health because we need some exposure to bacterial to keep our immune systems functioning correctly.
The Europeans have regulated and restricted triclosan in household goods for the past 10 years, but the FDA is lagging behind the research in issuing guidelines for use of triclosan in consumer products. The fact is, slapping on a label that claims to kill 99% of germs will help sell an industrial chemical hand soap and make Big Business a lot of money. Call me jaded, but SLS with a shot of triclosan is pretty much what you see on drugstore shelves today.