Hot water? It's just as good if you wash in cold

Hot water? It's just as good if you wash in cold

Water temperature as high as 38°C and as low as 15°C did not have a significant effect on the reduction of bacteria during hand washing, said the researchers.

Do you instinctively reach for the hot tap when you wash your hands?

Surely even the laziest among us - those who give their hands a cursory rinse, or worse, don't wash them at all - can manage a piddling 10 seconds.

And, using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water, Schaffner pointed out.

The researchers said it was more important to ensure people washed their hands at all, before preparing food and after using the toilet, than it was to insist water was hot.

While the study indicates that there is no difference between the amount of soap used, more work needs to be done to understand exactly how much and what type of soap is needed to remove harmful microbes from hands, said co-author Jim Arbogast, vice president of Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements for GOJO.

A new study has discovered that cool water removes the same amount of harmful bacteria.

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"People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands but as far as effectiveness, this study shows us that the temperature of the water used did not matter", said Donald Schaffner, professor at Rutgers University in the US. This process was repeated multiple times over a six-month period.

"The thing with heat, is to get the water hot enough to kill bacteria, you'd be blistering your hands", he tells us.

They also said that using antibacterial soap instead of normal soap didn't make much difference either.

Despite the study only including a small number of participants, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) Ian Culbert says it was nonetheless a well-designed study that was still able to offer an interesting perspective on the long-debated issue.

Antibacterial soaps were banned in the United States previous year after claims they do "more harm than good".

NHS advice says hands should be run under tepid running water, before liquid soap is applied to every surface of them, and rubbed vigorously for at least 10 to 15 seconds. "Does it give us the definitive answer about hand washing?" The only difference was in the energy that was used for heating up the water. "But for the time being, I don't see the recommendations changing but I'm hoping that this study will lead to more in-depth stories that can give us even stronger evidence that could lead us to changing our current recommendations".

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