Hot water unnecessary for handwashing, study says

Water as cold as 40 degrees Fahrenheit reduced bacteria on hands just as well as warmer water, according to a report

By Healthcare Facilities Today
January 29, 2014

While many believe hot water is more effective than cool water when it comes to handwashing, the temperature of the water used is not related to how well pathogens are eliminated during the process, according to an article on the Becker's Clinical Quality & Infection Control website.

Journal of Consumer Studies researchers examined cleanliness of subjects' hands after washing in several different temperatures of water. Water as cold as 40 degrees Fahrenheit reduced bacteria on hands just as well as warmer water, according to a report on the study.

What's more, "warmer water can irritate the skin and affect the protective layer on the outside, which can cause it to be less resistant to bacteria," according to one of the study's authors. Skin irritation is one reason healthcare workers forgo hand hygiene, according to research published in late 2013.

The energy expended as a result of using unnecessarily warm water for hand washing is approximately equal to the annual carbon emissions of Barbados, according to the article.

Read the article.


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