Handwashing over the sink with soap to protect from coronavirus infection

How to Reduce the Chance of Coronavirus Infection with Handwashing

April 25, 2020 8:00 am

Frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent the coronavirus and similar viruses from infecting you and the people around you. It’s a simple task that doesn’t even require fancy soap; an inexpensive liquid or bar soap that you find at the grocery store can make all the difference when it comes to fighting COVID-19.

Washing Away Germs

But why is proper handwashing so important, and why is “wash your hands” always a key piece of advice for avoiding illness? Viruses like the coronavirus are enveloped in a layer of fat that essentially holds the virus together. This outer layer also helps it stick to surfaces, like hands, helping the virus remain in place when plain water washes over it.

When soap comes in contact with the virus, it begins breaking down this layer of fat, which causes the virus to disintegrate and destroys its ability to spread and infect others. Soap also makes the hands slippery, so once each particle has been broken apart, everything is easily washed down the drain and you are left with clean hands.

Washing your hands properly is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. Simply applying soap and then washing it right off will not work nearly as well as scrubbing your palms, the back of your hands, in between your fingers, and your fingertips and thumbs. Soap needs to come in contact with every part of the hand and have enough time to break down the virus, which takes about 20 seconds. If you don’t want to count to 20, try singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

For more information, check out the CDC’s guide to proper handwashing.

Other Preventive Measures

In addition to proper handwashing, it’s important to also stay home as much as possible, cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (then throw it away and wash your hands), isolate yourself when you are sick, and avoid close contact with other people and touching your face. Practicing all of these preventive measures will help to keep you, your family, and our community safe.

Your Family Dentist in Lowell, MA

Our Bright Smiles Dental team looks forward to seeing you in our Lowell office soon for all your dental care needs! We plan to reopen on May 5, 2020. You can rest assured we will be taking every necessary precaution to protect our patients and our team from COVID-19. Let us know if you have any questions about how we are handling the coronavirus outbreak.


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