We're big believers in using soap to wash your hands - and not just because we make soap! With a farm family of ten, there are lots of opportunities to pass germs back and forth. Regularly washing hands with soap is the easiest way to keep us all healthy and prevent the passing of germs. And with our busy schedule, we don't have time to get sick!
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), five common ways that germs are passed are:
- hands to food
- infected infant to hands to other children
- food to hands to food
- nose, mouth or eyes to hands to others
- food to hands to infants
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste (including goats, dogs, rabbits, and chickens!)
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
The actual act of washing your hands is not complicated. The important things to remember and to teach your children are to:
- Scrub for a sufficient amount of time. The general recommendation is to sing the "ABC" song.
- Rinse under clean, running water. Insufficient rinsing, or rinsing in standing (likely contaminated) water is a great way to keep the germs on your hands.
- Dry with a clean towel, paper towel, or air dry.
Some people are concerned that using a bar soap is not as sanitary as using liquid soap. Several studies show that this isn't much of an issue. As reported in the New York Times, "A study published in 1988 in the journal Epidemiology and Infection concluded that washing even with contaminated bar soap is unlikely to transfer bacteria."
You are more likely to pick up germs from towels that harbor germs than you are to pick up germs from bar soap. Especially if you rinse under running water. I previously wrote in How Soap Works that the soap molecules will wash down the drain and take the germs and dirt with them. People are often concerned about soap not being effective if you are not using hot water. Hot water is not necessary because for the heat itself to kill bacteria, it would have to be hotter than your hands can stand. So use a water temperature that is comfortable to your skin. But however you do it, just make sure you're doing a good job washing your hands with good soap!