Back to School Means Hand Washing is Even More Important

There’s a good reason reminders about hand washing start showing up in the month before school resumes. “Washing hands,” according to the Center for Disease Control, “prevents illnesses and spread of infections to others.” The website KidsHealth puts it this way: “Good hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses — from the common cold to more serious infections, such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, the flu, hepatitis A, and many types of diarrhea.” 

Once kids are back in school and sharing nearly everything in the classroom, germs and infections transfer to objects other students touch. These germs then follow the children home and spread among families who can then take the sharing to work. It’s no surprise the start of school signals the time when we all re-enter the virus loop.

School desk with letters and putty

What About Antibacterial Soap?

Keeping families safe is a strong impulse, one that manufacturers and marketers pay close attention to. It’s at the heart of the industry push behind antibacterial soap. Their approach is simple – if you really want to keep your family safe, you should want a soap that’s made to kill bacteria. 

The problem with this approach is antibacterial soap doesn’t work and over the past 40-plus years has introduced an ingredient into our homes and water supplies – triclosan –  that the FDA considers a pesticide and Minnesota banned in 2014. Despite industry efforts to change the point of handwashing, the last thing any of us should want on our skin is an ingredient strong enough to kill the most harmful bacteria. The point of handwashing is always to remove dirt and germs from your hands.

When to Wash

Hand washing should be frequent. The website urges us all to make hand washing second nature, “because you never know when you’ve come into contact with germs. Wash your hands after using a tissue, taking the garbage out, before eating, during food preparations, after changing a diaper, after playing with pets.”  Not only should hand washing be frequent, it should be thorough – 20 seconds or more with warm water and soap. Be sure to get between fingers and under fingernails, where germs like to hide.

Close-up of person clasping hands together as they wash them thoroughly with foaming soap.

The Other Half of Washing

As important as regular, thorough hand washing is, drying is equally important. Bacteria can remain on hands after washing and wet hands spread those remaining bacteria far more easily than dry ones. The Mayo Clinic and the University of Bradford in the U.K. have both done studies on the best ways to dry hands after washing. The conclusions were that paper towels and air dryers are best. A further conclusion was that rubbing hands under an air dryer actually decreases the effectiveness of drying. This action likely brings buried germs to the surface. In general, like washing, being thorough is essential to drying.

Kids raising their hands at school

Why Wash With Organic Soap?

Organic soap like ours is made to be skin compatible from the beginning, from the high quality ingredients we use to our finished products. Commercial soap is made cheaply and marketed heavily. It often includes ingredients meant to minimize the stripping nature of its detergent base and to preserve it. These soaps are often stuck in a warehouse for up to eight months. 

None of these ingredients is included to be good to your skin. For many, changing to organic, skin-compatible soap means their skin isn’t automatically dry after bathing or showering. It can mean not having to use lotion right away and then several times during the day. Using soap made for the skin, rather than for sale, means it might be all you need to use.

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