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Take care of your hand hygiene, Australia

Every year, the treatment of hundreds of patients in Australia is complicated by infections contracted during health care. These infections can extend the period of illness, increase the severity of illness, and even cause death.

The single most effective method of preventing these infections is proper hand hygiene.

What is proper hand hygiene?

What is Hand Washing? It’s the act of cleaning your hands to prevent the spread of germs, diseases, bacteria and promote general cleanliness. But you probably already knew that. What is *Proper* Hand Washing? That is a bit more complicated. Perhaps it is easier to start by telling you what it is NOT: It is not simply rinsing your hands under running water, perhaps with some soap. Nope, that doesn’t do much except give you a sense that you’ve accomplished something. Proper hand washing is about being thorough in washing every aspect of your hands, including under nails, around rings, and between every part of the fingers. Soap is absolutely necessary, as it running water. Washing with soap and running water should take place for at least 15 seconds. Here’s the essentials distilled down as convenient dot points:
  • Use soap and running water
  • Be deliberate in covering every area of your hands vigorously, including under nails, around rings and between the closest parts of each finger. (Vigour and friction helps remove bacteria)
  • Wash hands for at least 15 seconds
Stanford University’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety published a couple of extra tips, especially relevant to a laboratory environment:
  1. Consider the sink, including the faucet controls, contaminated.
  2. Use a dry paper towel to turn faucet off.
  3. To keep soap from becoming a breeding place for microorganisms, thoroughly clean soap dispensers before refilling with fresh soap.
These are good tips, but we have a better idea for points 2 and 3: use soap dispensers and automatic taps. The dispenser and tap will have to be touched before washing but not during or after. The positive upside of having an automatic tap is that it will run for the recommended amount of time, meaning you can’t wash for too short a time period without being aware of it. Now that you know all of this, how do you teach it to others? Good question, I’m glad you asked! In our experience, the main issue is that people don’t realise how important proper hand washing really is. That’s where our product, GlitterBug Potion is useful. It allows everyone to see for themselves exactly how poorly (or well, as the case may be) they are washing their hands. Here’s how it works:
  1. Squirt GlitterBug Potion onto your hands and rub it in, just as you would with moisturiser
  2. Wash and dry your hands
  3. Use the UV Torch to illuminate all the lotion that hasn’t been washed out. This represents germs which have been left to spread to everything you touch.
Simple, eh? Take a look at our guide to using GlitterBug Potion for some pictures and more information on the product. By the way, in case you were wondering, the Potion only costs AU$49.50 Teaching proper hand hygiene couldn’t be easier or cheaper.