A survey we conducted shows that 84% of British adults don’t wash their hands for long enough to clean them of the bacteria which could cause infections such as upset stomachs or pneumonia, or viruses which can cause colds and flu. The recommended time to spend washing your hands is 20 seconds.
Good hand hygiene is important, as fewer infections means less antibiotics need to be prescribed. Prescribing too many antibiotics is a major cause of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which the World Health Organisation declares as one of the biggest threats to global health today.
How should I wash my hands?
Washing your hands properly should take 20 seconds, as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ twice. We've created a step-by-step image guide to washing your hands showing how long each step should take. Give it a go!
NHS Choices also have a great video about how to wash your hands.
Our research also showed that people aren't washing their hands frequently enough.
What is antimicrobial resistance and why does it matter?
Antimicrobial resistance is when an antibiotic can no longer kill bacteria, because they are resistant to it.
AMR is estimated to be contributing to 25,000 deaths per year in the EU alone and 700,000 deaths per year globally. It also has a significant socioeconomic impact and in the EU alone it is estimated that AMR costs €1.5 billion annually.
When surveyed, 4 out of 10 people did not know that antibiotic resistance is most accurately described as bacteria becoming resistant to the drugs used to treat them. This resistance can make infections much more serious and potentially life-threatening. The rate at which resistant bacteria develop can be slowed by reducing the number of unnecessary antibiotics used.