Pop quiz: When is the last time you touched your face with your hands?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people touch their eyes, nose and mouth about 25 times per hour without even realizing it—that’s about once every 2-3 minutes.
That may not seem like a big deal until you think consider all the germ-laden surfaces you touch each day and remember that your eyes, nose and mouth are all gateways for germs to enter your body.
Germs could be anywhere
Was there a flu virus on that handrail? A stomach bug on the ATM keypad? Or maybe the ubiquitous cold germ on the pen you found in the conference room. And we haven’t even brought up the myriad surfaces in public restrooms or on public transportation and the fact that some bacteria or viruses can live on a surface from a few hours to a few weeks.
We know the minute you start telling yourself not to touch your face, your nose develops an irrepressible itch and your eyes start to water, but there are other ways to avoid germs. One of the most effective—outside of living in a bubble—is also one of the easiest.
Wash your hands
There’s a reason the CDC refers to handwashing as a do-it-yourself vaccine: It’s one of the biggest and easiest things you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick or passing your germs onto someone else. Some researchers estimate that if everyone washed their hands regularly, a million deaths a year could be prevented.
Experts have a few suggestions for when handwashing is essential: food preparation, eating, caring for someone who is sick or when you are sick, changing diapers, using the bathroom, or interacting with animals, animal food or animal waste.
But handwashing should be a regular habit and be more than running your hands under the water and calling it good. The CDC recommends five simple steps for the most effective handwashing:
1. Wet your hands
Run your hands under clean water, turn off the tap and apply soap.
2. Use soap
Rub your hands together with soap to form a lather, making sure to scrub all areas including the backs of your hands, under your nails and between your fingers. According to the CDC, using soap is more effective than water alone because the surfactants in soap lift soil and microbes from skin.
3. Scrub—a lot
Continue scrubbing all those areas for at least 20 seconds. (TIP: Hum the “Happy Birthday” in your head twice to ensure you’re hitting the 20 second mark, or channel the surgeons on your favorite medical drama.)
4. Rinse with clean water
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Running water ensures you remove all the microbes and soil you scrubbed away from your skin.
5. Dry with a clean towel
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.
Protect your hands
All that washing can take a toll on your skin, so make sure you choose your soap wisely. G&H Protect+™ Concentrated Hand Soap by Amway is designed to provide a deep clean without drying out skin.
If other soaps are drying out your hands, consider keeping a lotion or cream in your purse, desk or gym bag. G&H Nourish+™ Hand Cream, for example, helps rebuild skin’s moisture barrier, relieving and soothing it while leaving it feeling moisturized and looking healthy. Plus, it absorbs quickly, so hands don’t feel greasy.