U-M Health Lab: Hail to the Handwashers! A Musical Guide to Handwashing

You’ve already heard the advice a million times because of coronavirus, or flu: Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face.

Maybe you’ve even heard suggestions of songs you can hum while you clean, to make sure you clean long enough.

Happy Birthday? Row, Row, Row Your Boat? The alphabet song?

We’ve got a better idea. If you’re a fan of the University of Michigan, it turns out that you can just sing the fight song.

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Whether you use an alcohol-based rub, or good old soap and water, rubbing your hands together while you sing, hum or silently imagine two refrains of Hail to the Victors and you’ll be all set.

Make sure you get all the surfaces of your hands, as shown in this video, while singing the lyrics to the song:

Hail! to the Victors valiant
Hail! to the conquering heroes
Hail! Hail! To Michigan
The leaders and Best …
Hail! to the Victors valiant
Hail! to the conquering heroes
Hail! Hail! To Michigan
The Champions of the west!

More about handwashing

Clean hands can protect you from getting sick, or spreading germs to others – especially to people whose age or health conditions put them at higher risk if they get sick.

Here are some quick tips:

  • If you choose an alcohol-based gel, spray or foam, make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol.
  • Plain soap is fine – it doesn’t have to have extra ingredients that tout their “antibacterial” properties.

SEE ALSO: How to Prepare for COVID-19

  • All alcohol products and soaps, combined with the friction of rubbing, help disrupt the fat-based outer coating of coronavirus and bacteria, and help dislodge all kinds of germs and dirt.
  • If you just used the toilet, or you can see grime or dirt on your hands, soap and water are best.
  • Alcohol-based products are just as good as soap in most other cases, or if you can’t get to running water easily.
  • Make sure your hands are dry before you go on to touch other things – let the alcohol or water evaporate, or use a clean paper or cloth towel to wipe.
  • If you have cuts or other non-intact skin, nail fungus infections, or long fingernails (real or artificial), take extra care to clean your hands fully. Microbes can lurk in all these places.
  • If you have an implanted device (an insulin pump, a medication port, a dialysis access, or other devices), or you are a caregiver for someone who does, take special care to clean your hands before touching the device or the area around it.
  • If you’re using soap and water, you might wonder if you’ll re-contaminate your hands if you touch the faucet handle with your nice clean hands. You can use your elbow or cover your hand with a paper towel if you really want, but this quick touch hasn’t been shown to cause issues.

SEE ALSO: Don’t Worry About the Antibacterial Soap Ban; Just Wash Properly

  • It’s fine to use hand lotion to keep your skin from drying and cracking – and in fact, you want to prevent your skin from getting cracks that can harbor germs. But remember that most alcohol-based products also have ingredients to protect your skin, and that using cold or warm water is less drying than hot water.
  • If your religion prohibits you from drinking alcohol, rest assured that major religions still allow the use of alcohol for external cleaning purposes.

If you want to understand the science behind handwashing, or get more tips, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s handwashing page.

If you work in healthcare, read these inspiring words and watch this TEDx talk from patient safety expert Sanjay Saint, M.D., of Michigan Medicine and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Like Podcasts? Add the Michigan Medicine News Break to your Alexa-enabled device or subscribe for daily updates on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher.

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