Thorough hand washing for infection prevention
Thorough hand washing

Study shows: Hand hygiene has room for improvement

Protecting health through hand washing

Although nearly everyone knows that washing hands helps prevent the transmission of diseases, not everyone appears to know when to do it.

According to a nationwide survey conducted by the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) on the occasion of World Hand Washing Day on 15 October, 96 percent of all respondents wash their hands after visiting a washroom.

But the situation is not as positive in other scenarios – only half of the study participants wash their hands when they enter a home. After cleaning their noses or coughing, only one in three people decided to wash up. The most common explanations from the participants were that they simply forgot or that they did not feel it was necessary.

Washing hands: A question of time?

Hand hygiene
80 per cent of all infections are transmitted by hands

It is precisely here that the awareness and knowledge of the complex subject of hand hygiene must be further strengthened and discussed. The duration of hand washing is just as important and decisive as the use of soap itself. For an effective reduction of the pathogens, a minimum hand washing time of 20 seconds is recommended. Approximately one fifth of all respondents stated that they do this regularly. In the past three years, the number of these people has risen from 38 to 51 percent. Heidrun Thaiss, head of the BZgA, called this increase “pleasing”.

Almost all respondents were of the opinion that washing hands helps to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases.

Those who adhere to the recommendations of the BZgA for hand washing  – by washing their hands regularly, with sufficient soap, for 20 to 30 seconds – can protect themselves and others against infections said the director of the BZgA of Cologne. “Colds, flu or diarrhea with vomiting can be prevented in this way”.

How to improve infection control

Creative and unusual measures can be effective in educating the general public on the importance of hand hygiene.

A US-based study concluded that high-impact signage can increase hand hygiene. A few years ago, for example, signs with the inscription “Four out of five men wash their hands” were affixed to a men’s toilet. As a result, the number of hand washers rose from 77 to 86 percent, according to Human Communication Research.

We see room for improvement

Further measures are needed to integrate hand hygiene even more into the habits and everyday lives of all people. OPHARDT hygiene offers a variety of hygiene solutions for public washrooms and the medical sector – creating a healthier community for everyone.

Learn more about the study here.


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