Among the many things December is known for, it’s also dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of proper handwashing.

Think your hands are clean? On average, you come in contact with around 300 surfaces every 30 minutes, which exposes you to approximately 840,000 germs! And although 71 percent of people claim to have good hand hygiene, 58 percent of people have witnessed others leave a public restroom without washing their hands.

Similarly, more than half of public transportation users don’t wash their hands after riding, and 39 percent of people do not wash after sneezing, coughing, or blowing their nose. Wylie ER aims to spread the word about proper handwashing to improve those statistics.

The Five-Step Rule

Nothing puts a damper on the holidays faster than feeling under the weather. This year, pledge to prevent getting sick or spreading illness to those you love by following these guidelines.

The five steps to killing germs:

1. Wet

Run your hands under the faucet until they’re sufficiently wet. Then squirt 1 to 2 pumps of your favorite antibacterial soap into your palm.

2. Lather

Rub the soap all over your hands, fingers, and about two inches up your wrist. The ideal lather-time should be around 20 seconds. An easy way to make sure you’re lathering long enough is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice in your head.

3. Scrub

This step is a key factor in killing germs, as they can survive the first two steps. Scrub the backs of your hands, palms, in between your fingers, and under your nails to ensure total coverage.

4. Rinse

Wash the soap completely off your hands with water. Contrary to popular belief, the temperature of the water has virtually no effect on handwashing.

5. Dry

If you’re drying your hands at home with a towel or cloth, be sure to wash it regularly. When leaving a public restroom, use a paper towel to open the door, so you don’t combat your efforts to keep your hands clean.

Use this month as an opportunity to explain and demonstrate these steps to your children!

Did you know?

According to Dr. Daniel Naysan, a California-based dentist, “In a clean mouth, 1,000-100,000 bacterial germs are living on each tooth surface. In a mouth that hasn’t been cleaned, there are 100 million to 1 billion.”

Additionally, a single human sneeze leaves your mouth at about 200 miles per hour and emits around 40,000 droplets into the air. That leaves an extraordinarily large window of opportunity for germs and bacteria to spread.

Don’t be Handsy

Picture yourself pulling on a door handle at the grocery store where 100, 1,000, even 10,000 people have touched before you. Now imagine, each one of those people had used their hand to cover a sneeze, rub their eye, or wipe their nose before touching the handle. Depending on the surrounding environment of the doorknob, bacteria can thrive anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.

Similarly, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute conducted a study where they detected 1,323 bacterial colonies among 27 door handles on a university campus. WPI used hidden cameras to discover that over 35 minutes, 1,060 people touched the doorknob, and 86 of them touched their face soon after.

Out of consideration for others, always cover your mouth when sneezing, coughing, or yawning.  It’s best to avoid using your hands to cover your mouth, and instead use a tissue, handkerchief, or the inside of your elbow.

In Conclusion

Endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Association, the three principles of handwashing are:

  1. Wash your hands when they are dirty, before eating or cooking, and after using the restroom.
  2. Cover your cough, sneezes, and yawns.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands at all costs.

Whether you’re experiencing symptoms of a virus, bacterial infection, or encountering any other type of medical issue, Wylie ER can help. Our premier facility and experienced staff are equipped to handle all medical emergencies from minor to severe, and our doors are always open.

Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Wylie ER and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.


Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on Wylie ER or any of our concierge-level medical facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.