Local News

Scrubbing is key to keep hands bacteria free

Posted October 26, 2011

— With a recent outbreak of the E. coli infection, the Wake County health department is reiterating the importance of washing hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of disease.

To get hands really clean, many people have suggested washing them for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.

To find out if it really matters how long you wash your hands, WRAL News talked with North Carolina State University assistant professor and food safety specialist Ben Chapman.

To contaminate hands, Chapman uses a product that mimics bacterial contamination, then views the results under a black UV light. Testers then wash their hands to see how well they are washing the bacteria off. 

Tips for getting hands cleaner Tips for getting hands cleaner

Chapman said many people miss the top of the hands, fingertips and nails. Drying your hands with a paper towel also makes a difference. 

"You can reduce bacteria 99 percent by just rubbing and the friction used in that drying stuff," he said. 

So, it doesn't matter how long hands are washed. The quality of the washing and drying on a clean, dry paper towel are more important. 


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  • barbstillkickin Nov 1, 2011

    Now tell me why we have to be told to wash our hands. This is 2011 am I right. I have always washed my hands after touching, eating, sneezing and any other thing I use my hands for. I can not tell you how many Women I have seen in public rest rooms that do not even wash hands and as far as having no paper towels then use your clothes they have to be cleaner then some one other then your germs left cause you had no towel. This makes me sick to see and I can not believe it when I see it cause they are not sloppy people.

  • wildcat Oct 31, 2011

    October 27, 2011 2:38 p.m.


  • wildcat Oct 31, 2011

    And what about bathrooms that don't have paper towels?

    BE SMART AND BUY SOME..........

  • Walkin Man Oct 28, 2011

    The skin, the largest organ of the body, has an acid mantle between 4 and 5.5 so it is acidic. Bacteria gets trapped there and are killed. Using hand cleaners that are too harsh will destroy the acid mangle and that makes it easier for the bacteria to attack the skin. The biggest problem is touching items that have dangerous bacteria and then touching your mouth, nose, eyes etc. Sure, wash your hands but don't go nuts. Bacteria is everywhere, you can't kill them all.

  • Baybee Doll Oct 27, 2011

    And what about bathrooms that don't have paper towels?

  • soyousay Oct 27, 2011

    wildcat---it biologically impossible to clean every bacterium from you hands. look it up. It would take lethal gamma radiation and that would be temporary. YOu do the best you can with scrubbing. Every seen a surgical scrub? and still after that you don sterile gloves that are only sterile until you touch the patient. You are simply trying to cut down contamination

  • ConcernedNCC Oct 27, 2011

    Too much cleanliness can be bad for you, too. See Polio and various bacterium in hospitals.

  • wildcat Oct 27, 2011

    hands be bacteria free soyousay

    Yes they will, if you constanly keep them washed and properly. Don't be a germ carrier, wash your hands. You will also be amazed in how much germs and feces is carried on your cell-phone. How can any carry that cell-phone constantly around spreading germs. UGH, NASTY! Clean the cell-phone and keep the cell out of the bathrooms at home and public.

  • wildcat Oct 27, 2011

    clean my hands with Clorox wipes..

    Not good. You need a good soaping to get your hands clean. Clorox is not good alone for your hands. They will eventually wrinkle and become dry.

  • wildcat Oct 27, 2011

    sing “Happy Birthday” twice.

    That is true. Washing your hands and wrists and fingernail for about 20 seconds and not touching the faucet, getting clean paper towels to dry your hands, and dispose in the trash, then get a clean paper towel just to turn off the faucet. You will be surprised in the thousands of people who do not wash their hands. Watch when you are in the restrooms in a public place and you will see why germs are widely spreaded.