How can you wash your hands without spreading germs when you
touch the tap handle?
This is a great question: There you are, doing the right thing
by washing your hands for 15 seconds or more with warm water
and plenty of soap. Then you realize that, to turn off the tap, you
have to touch the same handle you touched when your hands were
Experts recommend using a paper towel to turn the tap off after
washing hands. Some people also use a paper towel to open the
restroom door when they leave.
Of course, not all restrooms have paper towels. And some
surfaces outside restrooms are bigger germ hangouts than those
inside (desks, keyboards, and shopping cart handles, for example).
So it's a good idea to carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to
use before you eat, after you blow your nose, etc.
Studies prove that good hand washing habits keep infections at
bay. So wash your hands well and often, but don't worry too
much about hidden germs on taps, sinks, and other places. Most
teens have strong immune systems that can cope with these.
For more on this topic, check out the box below.
Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2007
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