Here’s how many times a day you should be washing your hands - according to experts

Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 4:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 4:23 pm
Washing your hands at least six to 10 times per day is linked to a lower risk of contracting coronavirus (Photo: Shutterstock)
Washing your hands at least six to 10 times per day is linked to a lower risk of contracting coronavirus (Photo: Shutterstock)

While following social distancing guidelines is key in preventing further spread of coronavirus, washing your hands often is also effective when it comes to reducing infections.

Regularly washing your hands with soap and water can help to kill viruses that may be on them, helping to prevent both yourself and others from infection.

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How often should I wash my hands?

Washing your hands at least six to 10 times per day is linked to a lower risk of contracting coronavirus, new research suggests.

Moderate-frequency hand washing was associated with a 36 per cent reduction in the risk of coronavirus infection, compared to those who washed their hands between zero and five times per day.

The study, published in Wellcome Open Research, assessed the hand washing behaviour of 1,633 participants, and found they were much less likely to be infected if they washed at least six times in a day.

Hand washing more than 10 times per day did not appear to cut the risk of infection further.

Dr Sarah Beale, from University College London and author on the study, said, “Given that Covid-19 appears to demonstrate similar transmission mechanisms to seasonal coronaviruses, these findings support clear public health messaging around the protective effects of handwashing during the pandemic.

"It's important to highlight that frequency of handwashing is only one aspect of hand hygiene.

"We also know that both longer duration of handwashing and the context of handwashing e.g. upon returning home or before eating - have been associated with lower overall risk of influenza or influenza-like-illness.”

How long should I wash my hands for?

Public Health England recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This should be done after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose in particular, as well as before cooking and eating.

It is also good practice to wash your hands after returning from a public place, such as if you have been travelling on public transport, or using an alcohol-based rub to help kill any germs.

Dr Beale added, “Good hand hygiene should be practised at all times regardless of whether you show symptoms or not.

"This will help protect yourself and prevent unwittingly spreading the virus to others around you."