Should you wash your hands in hot or cold water?

Washing your hands is really important to stop the spread of germs, which can make you ill.

'This study may have significant implications towards water energy, since using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water'.

Professor Donald Schaffner said: "People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands but as far as effectiveness [goes], this study shows us that the temperature of the water used did not matter".

Analysts gathered 20 volunteers, asking them to wash their hands, which were covered in bugs, 20 times each in 59-, 79- and 100-degree Fahrenheit water with varying amounts of soap.

Dirty hands can be cleaned and become just as germ-free using either cold or hot water, according to the results of the study on handwashing by researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Washing your hands for as little as ten seconds is effective, it found, while using antibacterial soap is little more effective than normal soap at removing E.coli – a potentially deadly bug that causes food poisoning.

In a previous study, Schaffner examined the difference between using a paper towel or airing drying hands.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that plumbing systems at food establishments and restaurants provide water at 100º F for washing hands.

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Washing the hands for 10 seconds significantly removed bacteria from the hands at all of the water temperatures.

Despite the study only including a small number of participants, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) Ian Culbert says it was nonetheless a well-designed study that was still able to offer an interesting perspective on the long-debated issue.

The study also found that people who regularly used lotion on their hands had fewer bacteria after washing than those who didn't, possibly because moisturizing can help fix dry and damaged skin that's more hard to clean.

Scrub all surfaces of the hands.

Professor Schaffner added: 'I think this study indicates that there should be a policy change.

"We are wasting energy to heat water to a level that is not necessary", Schaffner said.

"When you want to decontaminate your hands by washing them, the soap chemically detaches the dirt and the organisms, which then come off after you rinse them", she said. "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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