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Washing hands regularly is the single most important hygiene step in fighting the spread of bacteria and other germs – the kind that can lead to stomach upsets, cold, flu and other health problems. Washing hands regularly is the single most important hygiene step in fighting the spread of bacteria and other germs – the kind that can lead to stomach upsets, cold, flu and other health problems. 

But still people don’t do it when they should

Here are the five most common excuses people make most often for not washing hands (and why they’re wrong). 

1) I haven’t been anywhere 

Even if you’ve been at home all morning, you’ll have picked up germs on your hands without knowing it. Did you know that bacteria can survive on hard surfaces for anything from a couple of hours to several months, so telephone keypads and handsets, door handles, TV remotes – any surface that people touch regularly can be hotspot for bacterial transfer. 

2) They don’t look dirty

Everyday dirt and soil can carry all sorts of germs. So it’s always a good idea to wash your hands when they look dirty. But what about the microscopic organisms that you can’t see? 

In our daily routine we’re constantly picking up germs, particularly after going to the toilet or preparing food. So it is important to know when to wash your hands and be able to do it properly.  

3) I forgot

With so much going on, it’s easy to forget about washing hands. So try to make it a routine so you get into the habit. Leave yourself a note, draw on your hand, set a reminder on your phone, or write out this list until it sticks:

Wash hands before:

  • Eating or preparing food
  • Dressing a wound or giving medicine
  • Picking up a baby or infant
  • Changing a nappy.

Wash hands after:

  • Handling food
  • Changing a nappy or going to the toilet
  • Contact with body fluids (blood, saliva, vomit, etc.)
  • Handling animals and pets
  • Emptying the bin
  • Being in the garden.

Finally, wash your hands whenever they look dirty, or if someone else in the house is poorly.

4) Germs are good for the immune system

True, certain infection will help stimulate our immune system so preventing us becoming ill by the same infection again, but this is not always the case (e.g. food poisoning). General exposure to germs will also not protect us against specific infections.

Of the billions of microorganisms we come into contact with every day, very few are seriously harmful. So give your immune system a helping hand and give your hands a wash – when you need to.