Wet Hands Spread More Germs

How Wet Skin Is Able To Preserve And Transmit Bacteria

Washing your hands is one thing, but not enough people understand the risks of failing to dry your hands thoroughly too.

We all know that washing your hands is essential after going to the toilet, before preparing food and ideally after you’ve travelled on public transport. Using the bathroom as an example, a toilet bowl can harbour as many as 3.2 million bacteria per square inch, making it the perfect home for treats like salmonella, E. coli and staphylococci to fester in. When toilet splashback occurs, or someone touches the toilet seat to close or raise the lid, it’s very easy for these germs to be transmitted onto the skin. Seconds later and they’re spread all over the toilet flush, followed by the cubicle door handle. Whilst most people make some sort of an effort to rinse their hands, few know about the importance of drying their hands thoroughly, as research points to wet hands spreading germs.

Why Drying Your Hands Is Important

Wet hands after washing is not just something that feels unpleasant, it can significantly impact the effectiveness of bacteria removal, which has been your aim when washing in the first place. A University of Bradford study was published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology – Anna Snelling, lead researcher on the project, and expert in infection control and microbiology explains, Good hand hygiene should include drying hands thoroughly and not just washing”.

The amount of moisture on the skin, usually the hands, considerably effects the amount of bacterial transfer to surfaces or items that you touch after exposure to germs. The research proves that bacteria is kept in its original physiological state when locked inside droplets of moisture, which allows it to thrive in the new environment it’s transferred to.

But worse still, if you wash your hands repeatedly throughout the day and fail to dry them sufficiently, then skin excoriation can occur which allows higher populations of bacteria to colonise on the skin, exacerbating the issue. This is particularly problematic in some workforces where hand washing must be carried out frequently as part of your job, for example those in the medical industry who must attend to patients regularly.

Effective Washing And Drying Techniques

When washing your hands, make sure you use a warm temperature of water and leave them under the tap of a minimum of 30 seconds – roughly the length of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. If you’re washing your hands in the workplace, your washroom should be equipped with features which promote positive hygiene, and soap dispensers are one of the most important inclusions in a clean communal toilet facility.

Never be tempted to drip-dry your hands, even if you’re in a rush. Modern washroom hand dryers are extremely quick, thorough and eco-friendly, so there’s no excuse not to reduce the bacteria population on your skin by giving your hands a good blitz. However, it’s important not to rub your hands together, nor should you do this if using paper towels, as this technique can help to embed bacteria further into your epidermis. Simply leave them under the dryer, turn over so that back and front are exposed to the rush of air and then move away when dry.

Once finished, you can carry on about your day, making use of hand sanitiser if you wish, but being aware that it’s never a substitute for clean and thoroughly dried hands.