This study may change the way you use the restroom

This study may change the way you use the restroom

The latest news about hand hygiene is pretty cool.

That is, when it comes to washing your hands, cool or cold water works just as well for removing dangerous bacteria as warm or hot, according to a new study out of Rutgers University.

Instead, what matters more is the amount of time spent scrubbing your hands, which is at least a recommended 10 seconds.

In the study, 21 participants’ hands were contaminated with bacteria and were then asked to wash their hands in 60, 79 and 100-degree water. Researchers found no notable difference between washing in the different temperatures.

The latest findings run contradictory to the current Food and Drug Administration guidelines regarding the required water temperature for hand washing in dining establishments. Study authors say these results call for a reconsideration of the FDA recommendations, pointing out that a great deal of energy is being wasted by heating water to a point that isn’t needed.

Mary Diamond, infection prevention nurse practitioner at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., agrees with the study’s findings—especially with respect to the importance of working soap into a lather before rinsing.

“Thoroughly lathering your hands—back and front—is key to eliminating dangerous bacteria. All of us play a crucial role in preventing the spread of infections by investing as little as ten seconds in effective hand hygiene.”


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  1. Just as important, establishments should have bathroom doors that open automatically or by foot pull or hip push so clean hands don’t have to touch unsanitary door pulls!

  2. Marty Rosenberg June 15, 2017 at 2:34 pm · Reply

    Another flawed study

  3. Vicki Frederick June 15, 2017 at 2:35 pm · Reply

    I never thought the recommendation was based on the germ-killing efficiency of warm water but rather that I would be more likely to wash my hands thoroughly with comfortably warm water.

  4. This article is only about hand washing and not about changing bathroom habits. It is about water temperature being not at all important relative to,water temperature.

    Headlines seem to be a problem here.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.