Yes, we know; you’ve heard the advice. Washing your hands is considered one of the best ways to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
But that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it right — still.
One particularly guilty group may be men, according to the New York Times. In fact, women are 50 percent more likely to adopt or practice protective behaviors like hand-washing during an epidemic or pandemic, according to a 2016 review from the Los Alamos National Laboratory that analyzed data from studies throughout the world.
But this is the world we live in right now. But if you’re sick of humming “Happy Birthday” to hit that prime 20-second washing mark, we’ve got you covered.
So what does washing your hands correctly mean? Here is what you need to know:
First of all: stop doing it wrong.
Here’s the CDC’s five steps to getting it right.
Wet your hands with warm or cold clean, running water. Then, turn off the faucet and grab your soap.
Lather up your hands with soap by rubbing them together, and make sure you are getting under your nails, on the back of your hands, and between your fingers.
Once soapy, scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. The standard timer these days for this is singing or humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Rinse your hands with clean, running water. The DOH adds that you should be sure that the water runs “back down into the sink, not down to your elbows.”
Dry your hands well with a clean towel. You can also air dry them in a pinch. And turn off the tap using a clean paper towel, the DOH says.
» READ MORE: Face masks: Your questions, answered
If soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizer is your next best option. However, it should consist of at least 60 percent alcohol, the CDC notes, and be rubbed into your hands until it dries — which, again, should take about 20 seconds.
Do it often. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, you should wash your hands regularly, and especially before you touch or eat food, and after you use the bathroom, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, or touch animals. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seconds those recommendations, and adds that you should also wash your hands after touching any public surface like a table, door handle, shopping cart, or screen. Ditto for before touching your face.
Sick of using ‘Happy birthday’? Try these songs instead.
If you’re washing your hands for the right amount of time, you’re probably tired of hearing the “Happy Birthday” song in your head multiple times a day. If you still need a rough timer for the process, though, consider these slightly more Philly-centric options.
The intro to “Move Closer to Your World” — best known locally as the 6ABC Action News Theme Song – for example, lasts about 20 seconds, and is something most of us can hum from memory.
If you sing it twice, the Eagles’ famed, profane “No one likes us” chant also comes in around the 20-second mark, and longer if you include “E-A-G-L-E-S.”
For something a little more classic, the chorus of Hall & Oates’ 1980 classic “Kiss On My List” could be good.
To keep your hand-washing motivation up, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth previously told the Inquirer, it’s important to close the “intention-behavior gap” — a term that describes “the difference between what we hope to do and what we actually do.”
Duckworth recommends thinking of the people in your life who will benefit from you not getting sick, or thinking of the good things in your life and why you are grateful for them while washing up.
Stay clean, Philly.