The Relaxation in Hand Washing
It’s pretty safe to say that washing our hands has become a real focus in all of our homes over the past few months. This ritual of cleansing them for twenty seconds whilst singing “Happy Birthday” is now something that is second nature to us. However, it got me thinking about why we’d found ourselves in the position of simply not valuing the benefit of clean hands. As a country we had to be reminded, and retaught, how to do a very basic form of washing. So, now that we’re all rinsing together, how did this fall out of fashion?
Everybody will have memories of those tiny red and white bars of soap that we used to have in school, almost as small as the ones that you find next to the hotel washbasin, and the carbolic smell that greeted you when you used them. The idea of a liquid hand wash would have seemed alien to a child of the seventies or eighties, but it’s now the most common way of washing our hands. It almost feels as if moving away from a solid bar made us forget the importance, but there was another “innovation” to come.
Enter the Antibacterial Hand Sanitiser, which was trumpeted as the timesaving alternative. What we quickly forgot though was that it wasn’t actually cleaning your hands. The convenient dollop of gel didn’t remove the dirt and grime of everyday lives, it just sanitised. The ritual of washing our hands at the sink, spreading the lather up to our wrists, began to fall out of fashion. It would take the arrival of a pandemic to remind us of those basic childhood lessons in hand washing, and to re-emphasise that simple soap and water was the most effective way of cleaning our hands.
I’ve always thought that those brief moments standing at the sink, washing away the remnants of a task, can be one of the most relaxing times. It makes us stop for a moment and concentrate on ourselves. After all, who doesn’t have time for a quick twenty seconds of “me time”? Many hand soaps have inbuilt antibacterial and antiviral properties thanks to the ingredients that are used, but the most important part is to remember the twenty second rule. Hopefully hand washing is back to stay, because it’s one of the easiest and most fragrant ways to stay safe.
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