Hand soap originated in Babylon (now known as Iraq) where a mixture of ash, water and oil was mixed to get a soap-like substance, to use medically. Across the ages and times, soap evolved and became an essential hygienic element and the demand increased significantly. Today soap forms part of everyday essentials and there are a variety of types offered. There are three techniques for making soap:
- Cold process – soap ismade by blending fatty acids, oils and sodium hydroxide at a room temperature. In order to create a mild and well moisturized soap it takes about 6 weeks.
- Hot process - this is the opposite of the cold process where this process takes place at a temperature close to boiling. This is a good method for a faster turnaround as the soap is easy to cut and won’t crumble.
- Fully-boiled process – all the ingredients are involved in a full-boil process
The best benefit of hand soap is keeping hands clean for hygienic purposes and preventing germs from spreading to others. Many diseases are easily spread by not washing your hands with clean water. Now to answer all the basic questions:
1. When should you wash your hands?
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
2. How should you wash your hands?
- Wet hands with clean running water, either warm or cold and apply soap.
- Lather hands by rubbing together with soap.
- Lather the back of your hands and between your fingers.
- Scrub your hands for about 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands under clean running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel.
3. What if you don’t have soap and clean running water?
Although soap and water is the best hygienic solution when washing hands, an alcohol-based sanitizer is the next best thing. Ensure that the hand sanitizer has at least 60% of alcohol in order to eliminate germs.
4. How do germs make people sick?
Faeces from people and animals cause diseases like diarrhoea and infections from the germs spread. These germs get onto your hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper but also by handling raw meat. Germs spread easily if someone touches objects that have been handled by someone who sneezed or coughed on them. Germs can be easily passed on from person to person if they aren’t washed off using hand soap and water.
5. How washing hands prevent illnesses from spreading?
Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because:
• People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
• Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
• Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
• Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhoea and respiratory infections, and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Facts from around the world
- Handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who fall sick with diarrhoea and almost 1 out of 6 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.
- Although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. Washing hands with soap removes germs much more effectively.
- Handwashing education and access to soap in schools can help improve attendance.
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