The correct handwashing protocol to protect your health

With the outbreak and rapid spreading of COVID-19, understanding the correct handwashing protocol is now more crucial than ever. By implementing the proper protocol, along with the use of the correct types of cleansing products, it is possible to flatten the curve and help protect yourself and your loved ones.

“The fundamental steps of handwashing protocol are easy to follow and are crucial in the current times. Although, as a rule, proper handwashing protocol should always be followed,” explains John J Coetzee, CEO of Green Worx Cleaning Solutions.

These steps include wetting the hands with clean water and then applying enough soap to cover the entire surface area of the skin on both hands and at least up to the wrists (up to the elbows is preferred when possible). Rub the hands together palm to palm. Interlace the fingers with right palm over left and then swap over. Remember to wash the tops of the hands and fingers and run the nails over palms to cleanse under them. Rinse with clean water. “This should take a minimum of 20 seconds, which is as long as it takes to sing the ‘happy birthday’ song twice. Once rinsed, dry with a clean towel or sanitary paper toweling,” advises Coetzee.

Hands should be washed regularly but most specifically before, during and after preparing food,

before and after eating food, before and after caring for someone who is sick and/ or entering and exiting health care facilities such as hospitals, before and after using the toilet, before and after treating a cut or a wound, before and after changing diapers or cleaning a child who has gone to the bathroom, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, after handling pet food or pet treats, after handling refuse, and at any time when your hands are dirty.

“Considering the current pandemic, it is also wise to wash your hands upon arrival and just before departure of a domestic residence. If at certain occasions it is not possible to wash your hands then an effective hand sanitiser is recommended. This is particularly helpful when entering and leaving any public environment, like a grocery store or bank,” adds Coetzee.

However, washing hands with soap is much more powerful in combating the virus than sanitiser can be. “Soap contains fat-like substances knowns as amphiphiles, some structurally very similar to the lipids in the virus membrane. The soap molecules therefore ‘compete’ with the lipids in the virus membrane as well as with other non-covalent bonds that help the proteins, RNA and the lipids to stick together. As such, the soap is effectively ‘dissolving’ the glue that holds the virus together,” continues Coetzee.

The average person touches their face every two to five minutes. The virus can stay active on skin for several hours. The result is that the virus is easily transferred from the hands to the face where chances of inhaling the molecules are higher. Regular handwashing and refraining from touching the face are imperative.

The use of effective products is also of extreme importance. There are innovative products available, such as the Bio Tech Foam Hand Soap. This soap uses bio-enzyme technology. Immediately upon application of the bio-enzyme, non-pathogenic bacteria will colonise the hands, creating a protective shield which will prevent pathogenic bacteria, yeast and moulds from multiplying and spreading for up to five hours. This offers a longer protection time than regular soap. The soap has a built-in timer to ensure effective handwashing. The soap’s green foam turns white and transparent to indicate that at least 20 seconds of washing has been completed. “This colour changing foam innovation is the first of its kind within the African hand cleaning market,” explains Coetzee.

To combat COVID-19, it is imperative that the proper handwashing protocols are being followed and that the most advanced technologies available are used. Handwashing with soap is the most effective way to combat the spread of the virus – along with adhering to social distancing, using high alcohol sanitisers and refraining from face touching.

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