If you're diligent about clean hands, you understand how germs spread through hand contact. It's likely that you wash your hands before you eat food and after you sneeze. But what about after touching the object you interact with most often? Picture this. You walk into a grocery store with clean hands, and you contaminate them by touching a cart handle. Then you grab your phone to check your grocery list or answer a text. There's bacteria on phones. Bam. You're back at square one. You now have dirty hands and a dirty device.
Is there anything we touch more throughout the day than our phones? Probably not. If you're an average user, you're tapping, typing, swiping and clicking over 2,600 times per day![i] Once you come in contact with contaminated surfaces, then grab your phone, it could then be the culprit for spreading germs. You're stuck in an endless loop of cross-contamination, but you don't have to be.
Get Charged Up for Good Hand Hygiene
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes that touching a contaminated surface or object is how germs spread. You can help yourself, and those around you stay healthy by practicing good hand hygiene, including washing your hands often and routinely cleaning frequently touched surfaces. "For example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics."[ii]
Let's start with CDC's recommendations for healthy hand hygiene. Help stop germs from spreading throughout your home, workplace or classroom by washing your hands during the key times you are likely to get and spread germs. This includes but is not limited to before, during, and after preparing food, before eating food, after using the toilet, and after coughing or sneezing.
Every time you wash, scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and "lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails, making sure you clean all areas of your hands," states the CDC.
Side Note: The CDC suggests humming the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice if you need a timer. Personally, we prefer to sing the chorus to "Charge Me Up" by Jennifer Lopez, but you do you. You can even generate your very own handwashing infographic based on your favorite song at washyourlyrics.com. Don't worry, the lyrics don't have to be clean, and we promise we won't judge your singing chops as long as you're washing those hands often.
For health care personnel, the CDC advises to use an alcohol-based hand rub or wash with soap and water:
- Before touching a patient, performing an aseptic task or handling invasive medical devices, and moving from work on a soiled body site to a clean body site on the same patient
- After touching a patient or the patient's immediate environment, contact with blood, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces and after glove removal
Proper sanitization methods lower germs on a surface, which can reduce the risk of spreading germs. For electronics, the CDC guidelines recommend considering the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens.[iv]