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Double Helix hand washing guide

By David, 23 March 2020 News

Photo of a pair of hands washing with lots of soap.

Proper hand washing is very important
Image: ©istock.com/stockar

Hand washing is one of the most important tools we have in the fight against COVID-19. Read on for some tips and tricks to keep your hands sparkling!

Why do we need to wash our hands?

Virus particles look a bit like tiny bubbles. Some viruses, including coronaviruses, are surrounded by layers of proteins and fats. Soap and other cleaning products can destroy fat layers, making the virus particles inactive. The alcohol in hand sanitiser also attacks fat layers, but other types of alcohol might not work.

How do I wash my hands properly?

First, lather up. If you have liquid soap, put some on your hands and rub them together for a few seconds. With bar soap, wet your hands and rub the bar to get up some bubbles, and then put the bar down.

Next, rub your hands together away from the water You want to rub for at least 20 seconds, and use lots of different motions. Here are some areas people often forget:
• Thumbs
• Fingernails
• Between fingers
• The backs of fingers
• Fingertips

When you’re finished, rinse your hands off thoroughly, and dry your hands completely.

In public toilets it’s a good idea to use a disposable paper towel to turn off the tap, and to open the door when leaving. At home, remember to wash hand towels regularly. If someone is sick, they should use their own towel.

With hand sanitiser, use enough to rub over your hands covering all surfaces. Keep rubbing until your hands are dry.

If you’re looking to perfect your professional hand wash, here’s a handwashing video from the World Health Organisation (WHO). It includes some useful rubbing motions:

The WHO also has printable posters with hand washing instructions [PDF].

How long is 20 seconds?

It’s a pain to set a timer whenever you wash your hands. It’s much better to sing a tune in your head (or out loud!). Here are some tunes that we’ve been timing our hand washes to. Each one is at least 20 seconds long.

The chorus of ‘Dance Monkey’ by Tones and I:

“So they say,
‘Dance for me, dance for me, dance for me, oh-oh-oh
I’ve never seen anybody do the things you do before’
They say,
‘Move for me, move for me, move for me, ayy-ayy-ayy
And when you’re done, I’ll make you do it all again’”

The chorus of ‘Memories’ by Maroon 5:

“Here’s to the ones that we got
Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
Of everything we’ve been through
Toast to the ones here today
Toast to the ones that we lost on the way
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
And the memories bring back, memories bring back you”

The bridge and chorus of ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X:

“Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’
Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ‘til I can’t no more
I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ‘til I can’t no more”

The chorus of ‘You Need to Calm Down’ by Taylor Swift:

“So oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
You need to calm down, you’re being too loud
And I’m just like oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh (oh)
You need to just stop
Like can you just not step on my gown?
You need to calm down”

Get creative!

Can you come up with your own hand washing tune? It could be any music you like, from TV intros to computer game dance emotes. What’s important is that you know the song off by heart, and it takes at least 20 seconds. You can put your favourites down in the comments!

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