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Scientists reveal how to wash your hands: Research shows six step process is most efficient at killing bacteria

Six-step technique more efficient, but requires 25% more time to complete
Only 65% of providers completed entire hand hygiene process in the study
6-step requires you to interlock fingers and rub inside and outside of hands

It turns out that just lathering your hands with soap, rubbing them vigorously for 20 seconds and rinsing is not the most effective way to clean them.
Experts now say the six-step hand-hygiene technique recommended by the World Health Organization is far more superior than a rival three step process.
This technique reduced the median bacterial count from 3.28 to 2.58, compared to the three-step method that only reached 2.88, found a recent study.



Researchers from at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland observed 42 physicians and 78 nurses was their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub after treat patients.
The six-step technique was determined to be microbiologically more effective for reducing the median bacterial count (3.28 to 2.58) compared to the three-step method (3.08 to 2.88). 
However, using the six-step method required 25 percent more time to complete (42.50 seconds vs. 35 seconds).
'One of the interesting incidental findings was that compliance with the six-step technique was lacking,' said Jacqui Reilly, PhD, lead author of the study and professor of infection prevention and control at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.
'Only 65 percent of providers completed the entire hand hygiene process despite participants having instructions on the technique in front of them and having their technique observed.'
'This warrants further investigation for this particular technique and how compliance rates can be improved.'
Experts say that you should use soap if your hands are visibly dirty, but use alcohol-based hand rub if you cannot tell just by looking at them.

To properly wash your hands using the superior six-step method begin by wetting hands with water and grab either a dollop of soap or hand rub.
Begin rubbing your palms together with your fingers closed, then together with fingers interlaced.

Move your right palm over left dorsum with interlaced fingers and vice versa – make sure to really rub in between your fingers.
Then interlock your fingers and rub the back of them by turning your wrist in a half circle motion.
Clasp your left thumb in your right palm and rub in in a rotational motion from the tip of your fingers to the end of the thumb, then switch hands.

And finally scrub the inside of your right hand with your left fingers closed and the other hand.
'Hand hygiene is regarded as the most important intervention to reduce healthcare-associated infections, but there is limited evidence on which technique is most effective,' said Reilly.
'This study provides a foundation for effective best practices to implement on the frontlines of healthcare.'


According to the World Health Organization, health care-associated infections, or infections acquired in health-care settings are the most frequent adverse event in health-care delivery worldwide.
And most countries lack surveillance systems for to monitor this issue.
Although there has been significant progress in combating this problem, there are still one in 245 hospitals has at least one healthcare-associated infection. 

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