Handwashing to prevent COVID-19: Does the temperature of the water matter?

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 10:18 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - We’ve heard about washing your hands for at least 20 seconds to get rid of all the germs, which will help protect you and your family from coronavirus, but does the temperature of the water matter too?

Some local parents were concerned that some schools and businesses may only have cold water, and whether that’s enough to kill germs while washing your hands.

Although scrubbing under a warm flow of water may be more comfortable, and we’d assume do a better job of killing germs, Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said as long as the water is flowing that’s all that matters.

“Just soap the hands up well, soap thoroughly over all surfaces, including the nails and in between the fingers. And then, just use running water to wash the soap off. Again, it’s all about the running water, the soap, and the friction much more so than the temperature,” Landers advised.

Landers also said some people were confused about which is better: washing your hands or hand sanitizer. Landers said washing your hands will always be better than hand sanitizer. but if you’re out in public and hand sanitizer is all you have, it’s a suitable substitute.

Click here for more hand-washing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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