Column: Handwashing habits should happen all the time

Megan Armstrong San Antonio News Leave a Comment

In the past couple of weeks, it’s amazing how many times adults have told other adults to wash their hands

Some things really should go without saying.

I know it’s important to remind kids of the importance of good handwashing habits: Wet your hands, then turn off the water. Add a little soap and lather up for at least as long as it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday.” Finally, turn on the water and rinse, before drying your hands on the same towel that’s been hanging by the sink since Wednesday.

Or on paper towels.

Or on your jeans, if you’re in a public restroom that has decided to install air dryers.

It is possible to run across sinks so dirty that washing one’s hands in them seems like a bigger risk than going without a wash. That’s where hand sanitizer comes in, especially the little containers that make one smell like the tropics, or watermelon, or cotton candy.

Of course, there are sanitizers perfumed with fragrance that is definitely feminine or masculine. Getting the wrong one on your hands can make you smell like gardenias or shaving cream, which can be a big distraction when you’re adjusting your glasses, brushing hair out of your eyes or scratching an eyebrow.

During allergy season in South Texas, one would be more likely to be wiping a watery eye, blowing one’s nose or wiping away a little bit of drool before anybody else notices. When that’s the case, tissues are not enough. It is the time of soap and water.

Health care experts will tell you that hand washing is the most effective step in preventing the spread of illnesses, such as a cold and flu. That’s how bugs spread, and that’s how we can best prevent outbreaks.

Thing is, we shouldn’t need to be threatened with a contagious illness as motivation to wash our hands. It’s something we should do several times a day because life can be, well, yucky.

We do a lot more than share door handles and light switches. We tie our shoes, pet dogs and cats, scratch itches and poke, push and swipe cell phone screens that we keep centimeters away from our mouths. Then, we shake hands, push shopping carts, borrow staplers and hand over remote controls. We don’t know in what order.

But we do know soap and water help. Nothing special, just soap, water and a little effort.

We are aware — or should all know — that we ought to do this to keep ourselves and, each other, safe.

If we’re older than 5, we shouldn’t have to be reminded to do so.

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