We are Washing Our Hands More. But Are We Using the Right Soap?

While there are few good things that have come out of the pandemic, one that certainly cannot be ignored is that we are washing our hands much more than ever before. Not only is this helping us stop the spread of coronavirus, but public health officials also believe it is one reason that the number of flu cases this past winter (2020–2021) have been so low.

But there are a few points we need to keep in mind about handwashing. Along with washing our hands properly, we must make sure the hand soap we use is not causing more problems than we realize.

Here is the situation.

When we wash our hands, we generally think the soap and the rubbing action remove soils and pathogens embedded in our skin so they can be rinsed away with warm water. This would include the pathogens that can cause the coronavirus.

However, the soap dispensers may be spreading germs, instead of helping us remove them. At least this is part of the findings of a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

According to the report:

“People who wash their hands with contaminated soap from bulk-soap-refillable dispensers can increase the number of disease-causing microbes on their hands and may play a role in the transmission of bacteria in public settings.”

To come to this conclusion, the researchers conducted a study in an elementary school where 14 soap dispensers were installed. The type of soap dispensers installed were “bulk soap” dispensers. This means, as the soap level goes down, the cleaning professional refills the dispenser with soap. While these types of dispensers are less common today than they once were, they are still found in many schools and facilities throughout New Jersey.

As to our study, students and teachers in the elementary school were asked to wash their hands as they usually would. However, their hands would be tested for bacteria levels before handwashing and once again after handwashing. The researchers found that bacteria on the hands of students and staff increased an astonishing 26-fold after washing with the contaminated soap.

According to one of the researchers:

This is the first study to quantitatively demonstrate that washing hands with contaminated liquid soap increases the [amount] of bacteria on hands. Furthermore, the results directly demonstrate that bacteria from contaminated hands can be transferred to secondary surfaces.

So, now you know the situation, but why is this happening?

It appears, say the researchers, the culprit is not the hand soap. It is those refillable dispensers. With time, use, exposure to air, along with touching, these dispensers can and apparently do become contaminated. As they do, the soap they hold can also become contaminated.

It is particularly important that we are all aware of this. With the coronavirus, we must do all that we can to prevent the spread of the disease and be sure all the steps we take—including hand washing—are helping us in this endeavor.

We should note something else that came out of this study. The researchers found that when hands are contaminated because of using contaminated soap, that bacteria can be transferred to secondary surfaces.

This means, not only are we putting our own health at risk, but we are putting the health of others at risk as well.

It is because of this that Total Maintenance Services is urging all our clients to replace bulk soap dispensers with cartridge soap dispensers. Further, we suggest installing touch free soap dispensers. This further helps prevent the spread of infection.

The brand we recommend and install for our clients is from GoJo, one of the most respected manufacturers in the healthcare and professional cleaning industries.

Because we believe this is so important, we are here to help you upgrade your soap dispensers.  Just contact us by phone—732-901-5337—or by clicking on our logo below. We will take care of it.

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