Leaving the hands wet could be worse than not washing them, says expert

13th of September 2022
Leaving the hands wet could be worse than not washing them, says expert

Failing to dry one's hands after a trip to the toilet can actually be more harmful than not washing them at all, according to Swansea University microbiologist Dr David Webber.

He claims that 85 per cent of microbes are spread by people contaminating surfaces while their hands are still moist. And he describes people who fail to dry their hands properly as "anti-social".

"The pandemic has focused attention on the correct way to wash our hands with published guidance from WHO, the CDC, and NHS," he said. "However, there has been no such guidance on the correct procedures to dry hands which is equally important. In fact, not drying the hands properly could be less hygienic than not washing them at all."

Dr Webber has been working with hand dryer manufacturer Airdri to come up with a list of hand-drying "dos and don'ts". He says thoroughly drying the hands is the best option, but advises against the use of loo roll since this has the potential to leave fragments of contaminated toilet paper on the hands.

He claims that wiping off the moisture on one's trousers or skirt can transfer any bacteria from the clothing on to the hands, defeating the purpose of washing. And those who attempt to style their hair with the leftover moisture on their hands run the risk of picking up microbes from their scalp - including the bacteria that causes acne - he says.

But avoiding drying the hands altogether is the worst method, he adds, since this allows wet hands to transfer viruses and bacteria on to any surfaces with which they have contact.



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