Hand Hygiene: Stopping COVID-19 Dead in Its Tracks

washing hands

It sounds so simple you might think it won’t work. However, hand hygiene has proven itself very effective against the COVID-19 virus, a death-dealing, earth-shaking menace that has put the world on its knees. And, the truth of the matter: Putting a premium on hand hygiene is putting a premium on the lives of people, those around you, including. And this has strong precedence.

When West Africa was battling the deadly Ebola virus in 2014-2016, considered the most complex of the Ebola epidemics that haunt history, it placed its faith in the washing of hands. And miraculously, that part of the planet contained the virus in time.

Now, we are face to face against another deadly killer virus, one that has placed the world as we know it on its knees. COVID-19’s ability to caught the world off-guard. And as the chaos is mounting and dead bodies piling up, we may have to go back to the simple routine of keeping our hands clean all the time. As WHO (World Health Organization) details, hand hygiene may well be a great lifesaver in these times of distress. Like it used to before the pandemic.

Knowing how to ensure hands are spic and span always is therefore paramount. This time around, it’s not an option. It’s a must.

How Handwashing Stopped Viruses Dead on Its Tracks

You might be curious how the washing of hands can be instrumental in keeping a deadly virus at bay. Well, it all boils down to chemistry.

By nature, the virus is composed of genetic material all wrapped up in a fatty coating. It doesn’t matter if it’s the African Ebola or the COVID-19 virus. Their physical structures are basically the same.

When you wash your hands, soap molecules destroy the lipid membrane that protects the virus. As a result, the virus falls apart. Those “spike” proteins of the virus, one that helps it corrupt human cells, are effectively rendered helpless against soap molecules. In short, the virus is effectively inactivated, unable to function as a dangerous entity.

As you rinse, the weakened virus also goes down the drain. Scrubbing your hands can physically dislodge pathogens from your hands. However, it’s paramount that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to make the countermeasure effective. Applying soap long enough is key to containing the virus.

If you look at the national government’s COVID-19 response, hand hygiene is top of the list. On its official website, CDC details that regular handwashing is “one of the best” methods to get rid of germs. That way, you avoid sickness. Most importantly, you don’t become an unwitting agent of a disease that has claimed more than a million lives all over the world.

What if There’s no Water and Soap

hand sanitizer

Luckily, hand sanitizers can fill the void at times when water and soap aren’t an option. This is good news for 3 billion people globally who don’t have access to clean water at home.

To be effective, it’s important to use hand sanitizers that have a high ethanol content. As much as possible, use those with 60% to 70% alcohol content for the best results.

There were indeed cases when hand sanitizers were in shortage all over America. But manufacturers have since adjusted their ability to mass-produce. Armed with superior filling equipment, for instance, industries were not only able to hit record high demand for hand sanitizers, but they also produce products of far better quality. The state-of-the-art technology behind these pieces of equipment eliminated sloppy performances, which led to supply shortages.

The advantage of hand sanitizers over the traditional hand-washing method is plenty. First up, you can bring a unit around. Meaning, you can use it everywhere you go. You are not limited to the existence of water.

However, like hand-washing, using a hand sanitizer needs to be done properly to be effective. You should sanitize your hand for as long as 20 seconds. When you do, you don’t only keep your hands clean. You get rid of pesky viruses lurking therein. And in the process, keep everyone around you safe and sound.

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