Washing hands in cold water 'as good as hot'

The study found washing in cool water removes just as many germs as hot water

Using water at a temperature ranging from 38C (100F) to 15C (60F), there was no significant difference in the removal of bacteria.

Do you instinctively reach for the hot tap when you wash your hands?

"If you think about how many different things you do with your hands and how many different places they may visit in any given day - even if your hands look clean, they are covered in microorganisms or germs, some of which are harmless while others can carry infection and disease", says Culbert.

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

The researchers said it was more important to ensure people washed their hands at all, before preparing food and after using the toilet, than it was to insist water was hot.

The coauthor Jim Arbogast, Vice President of Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements for GOJO, said more work needs to be carried out to understand exactly the amount and the type of soap that is needed to remove harmful microbes, though the study does not indicate any differences between the amount of soap used.

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

The study took place over a six-month period.

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In his study, researchers used 21 participants.

The action of washing soap off in the process of handwashing is what "helps to get hands clean", she said.

But they did say that you should scrub your hands for at least 10 seconds.

The findings are important, the authors say, because the Food and Drug Administration's guidelines for restaurants and food establishments recommend that plumbing systems deliver water at 100 degrees for hand washing.

The study appears in the June issue of the Journal of Food Protection.

Antibacterial soaps were banned in the U.S. past year after claims they do "more harm than good".

The study also found that people who regularly used lotion on their hands had fewer bacteria after washing than those who didn't, possibly because moisturizing can help fix dry and damaged skin that's more hard to clean. "Many hand-washing recommendations are being made without scientific backing, and agreement among these recommendations is limited, as indicated by the major inconsistencies among hand-washing signs". Professor Schaffner stated that there should be a change of policy in regards to handwashing policy in the workplace.

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