Hand washing study findings run counter to FDA guidelines

GETTY- STOCK IMAGEResearchers also found that antibacterial soap was no better than normal soap

It's been longed believed that washing your hands in warm water is more effective at removing germs than cold water.

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According to researchers, washing your hands in cold water is just as effective at reducing bacteria as washing your hands in hot water.

However, the researchers did admit that their study sample was small, and that more extensive studies are needed to determine the best ways to wash potentially harmful bacteria and germs off hands - and the rest of the human body.

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For the study (n=21), high levels of a harmless bacteria were put on the hands of participants multiple times over a 6-month period before handwashing in 60º F, 79º F, or 100º F water temperatures using 0.5mL, 1mL, or 2mL of soap.

"Also we learned even washing for 10 seconds significantly removed bacteria from the hands", said Dr Schaffner, from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The amount of soap the people used didn't affect the findings.

He also points out that this is the minimum amount of time the authors are recommending for hand washing-and that some circumstances may call for longer washes. Moreover, further study is required on amount of soap, its type and the proper techniques of to remove harmful micro-organisms from the hands.

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Schaffner said: ‘This study may have significant implications towards water energy, since using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water'.

Their guidance focuses on rubbing hands together in various ways to make sure each surface of each hand is clean. Just make sure to wash your hands. No, I don't think so, but it is an important piece of the growing evidence [in the debate]. The only difference was in the energy that was used for heating up the water.

They asked 20 people to wash their hands 20 times each with water that was 15 degrees, 26 degrees or 38 degrees. Professor Schaffner stated that there should be a change of policy in regards to handwashing policy in the workplace.

Most of us are taught that washing hands with hot water and soap is key to keeping germs at bay.

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"When you want to decontaminate your hands by washing them, the soap chemically detaches the dirt and the organisms, which then come off after you rinse them", she said. "And while for you it might not seem like it has a major impact, but for those people around you who may have compromised or weakened immune systems, it could make a big difference".

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