I never imagined I would be a biology teacher, but I’m over a decade in and I love my job. I owe a lot of that passion to my microbiology teacher and the fun experiment she did with us on hand washing! Learn more about the experiment and check out the incredible statistics coming out of the Healthy Hand Washing Survey!
Disclosure: I am partnering with Bradley Corporation. All opinions are my own
Microbiology Changed Me
I remember walking into my microbiology class in college. I had heard horror stories about how difficult this class was and I definitely stressed about juggling microbiology, anatomy and physiology and organic and biochemistry. It was a heavy schedule, but I was determined to be successful. The minute my professor walked in and began engaging with the class, I knew I was going to enjoy the course.
Each class day, she would have a different microbe listed on the board, and she would spend the first 5-10 minutes of class lecturing on interesting facts about transmission, short and long term effects and how form and function of the organism benefited its survival. I was fascinated and horrified all at once. I hung on every single word that woman spoke and that was the beginning of my massive focus on germs and hand washing.
Germaphobe’s Aren’t Bad
Basically, everyone that knows me knows that I am a germaphobe. I don’t like sharing food and I most definitely would not share a drink with you (or my own children for that matter). I keep a clean house and I disinfect touch spots at least 2 times a week. I also wash my hands often, among many other things. My coworkers joke about me being a germaphobe, but I never take offense.
Germaphobe is actually a compulsion of my obsessive compulsive disorder, but I don’t feel like being a germaphobe is a bad thing. Being clean is relaxing to me and although I do get anxiety when things are not clean, I am able to cope just fine. It is not a bad thing to be a germaphobe, to enjoy cleanliness and to be aware of the microscopic world around us. I embrace those microbes and I know the benefit of having our own microflora and making sure that we take the best care of our own little petri dish bodies by washing and cleaning.
Experiments in Hand washing
I remember the EXACT lesson that got me washing my hands more. Our professor brought in a little bottle of solution that went on clear but glows under black light. She put a dime size amount on each of our hands and told us to rub it in like lotion. She shut the lights off and brought a black light around for each of us (small class), to look at our glowing hands.
Then she told us to go to the sinks and wash our hands like we normally would. There were no other instructions and so we all headed to the sinks, laughing and joking about these glowing hands.
Lights off…the black light came out again and you guys I was horrified. I remember thinking that I had been washing my hands wrong my entire life and wondering how, at 20 years old, I was so bad at washing my hands. I had spots that I had completely missed with soap and my cuticles and under my nails were glowing so brightly.
Our teacher used this experiment to teach us about proper hand washing techniques and from then on I learned how to best wash my hands and really scrub up those cuticles. She was diligent about reminding us that we needed at least a dime size of soap and that we needed to lather and rub the soap in like we would do with lotion. She told us that we should scratch our nails on our palms to get the soap under our nails and to rub our cuticles across our palms as well. I have washed my hands like that from then on.
Healthy Hand Washing Survey
Bradley Corp. – an international restroom equipment manufacturer- recently conducted its Healthy Hand Washing Survey which highlighted hand washing habits in various generations along with opinions on public restrooms, flu concerns and even cell phone related incidents in restrooms!
The results overwhelmingly showed that 97% of respondents agreed that washing your hands after using a public restroom was important but that on average respondents were washing their hands only 86% of the time! It is interesting to see how valued hand washing is depending on the generation.
Soap and water are the most effective in making your hands less germy and less germs mean less chances of getting sick. Public restrooms are full of those germs and making sure that you are washing your hands before leaving is important. Statistics on actions that are taken to avoid germs in public restrooms are below and quite interesting.