Water Temp Doesn't Factor into Handwashing Effectiveness, Say Researchers

GETTY- STOCK IMAGEWashing your hands with cold water is just as effective as using hot water

For effective hand hygiene, water temperature matters less than time, new research states.

We all know that washing our hands can keep us from spreading germs and getting sick.

Surely even the laziest among us - those who give their hands a cursory rinse, or worse, don't wash them at all - can manage a piddling 10 seconds.

"We want people to be comfortable in washing their hands and if cooler water is more comfortable do that or if warmer is more comfortable do that", Schaffner said.

"People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands, but as far as effectiveness, this study shows us that the temperature of the water used didn't matter", said Donald Schaffner, a specialist in food science at the university.

The coauthor Jim Arbogast, Vice President of Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements for GOJO, said more work needs to be carried out to understand exactly the amount and the type of soap that is needed to remove harmful microbes, though the study does not indicate any differences between the amount of soap used.

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A new study finds there's at least one thing hand washers can't get wrong, even when they're trying to wash off nasty germs like E. Coli: the water temperature.

The team tested 21 volunteers who had their hands exposed to harmless bacteria and who washed at various temperatures over a six-month period. The study concluded that the amount of soap used makes no difference.

At present, U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines recommend that plumbing systems at food establishments and restaurants deliver water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) for hand washing.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, a food safety adviser for the British Hospitality Association, said: "Warm water is good as it helps the soap to lather and it's the action of washing soap off which helps to get hands clean".

"The literature on hand washing includes a tremendous amount of misinformation, and data on many issues are missing", they wrote in the new study.

Their guidance focuses on rubbing hands together in various ways to make sure each surface of each hand is clean. If cold water handwashing becomes the norm, businesses could save significantly in terms of energy use. Professor Schaffner stated that there should be a change of policy in regards to handwashing policy in the workplace. "Many hand-washing recommendations are being made without scientific backing, and agreement among these recommendations is limited, as indicated by the major inconsistencies among hand-washing signs".

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