Jul 19, 2019 | Updated: 09:53 AM EDT

Washing your hands for 20 seconds can protect you from the flu

Mar 10, 2019 08:08 PM EDT

(Photo : flickr)

Every year, almost 20 million people in the United States alone, catch the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people must work on improving their hand washing techniques. Hand washing is essential, and it only takes 20 seconds to prevent radioactive materials, microbiological agents and chemicals from spreading.

Germs and bacteria are everywhere, and they can cause all sorts of illness and infections. Even though we have immune systems that generally take care of the majority of the issues, a few germs and bacteria can still slip through especially during the cold and flu seasons.

Despite the importance of hand washing, studies show that most people fail to follow this important procedure. It may sound simple, but according to the research from the Journal of Environmental Health, only 5 percent of people wash their hands correctly.

To prevent the spread of disease-causing bacteria, all that you need to do is to wet your hands and wrists and apply soap to your hands. Take note that liquid soap is preferred over bar soap. Work soap into a lather, scrub your hands and wrists vigorously for 20 seconds.

If you don't have a watch or a timer handy, you can hum to the tune of "Happy Birthday to You" twice. Be sure to wash every inch of your hand including your fingertips, between your fingers and even under your nails and not just the back or the palm of your hands. Then wash and dry using a clean towel.

Health professionals instill the importance of hand washing because of our everyday activities. A simple handshake, a hug or even touching the most random things such as doorknobs can spread germs like E.coli. Most people touch their eyes, nose, and mouth before washing their hands; some even prepare food and drinks with unwashed hands.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "As you touch people, surfaces, and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Although it's impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes."

Unsanitary behavior can lead to colds, lung infections, diarrhea, meningitis, hepatitis, the flu catching the Epstein Barr virus and more. But practicing the 20-second rule in hand washing, especially during the flu season, can help stop the spread of germs and bacteria. If water and soap are not available, you can use alcohol or hand sanitizers.  

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