Clean Hands are Key to Fighting Cold, Flu Germs

Hand washing is single most important measure to prevent illness

WILMINGTON, MA - With the cold and flu season approaching, it’s time for health-minded individuals to pay particular attention to washing their hands on a regular basis because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning our hands is the single most important measure people can take to keep from getting a cold, the flu or the threatening H1N1 virus.

“Studies have shown that 40 percent of women and 58 percent of men do not routinely wash their hands—including after using restroom facilities,” says Adam Soreff of UniFirst, a company which provides safety apparel and facility services cleanliness products to companies throughout North America.

Health studies have shown that cold and flu germs are able to survive on and be transferred from many commonly touched surfaces for up to 48 hours. Some are obvious, like door handles, phones, and computer keyboards. But others tend to be less apparent, like elevator buttons, cafeteria tables, and debit card keypads.

When soap and water are not available, medical experts recommend that waterless hand sanitizing gels or wipes, such as Purell® products, be used as they can kill 99.9 percent of the most common germs that cause illness.

For hand washing to be truly effective, the CDC says it must be done for at least 20 seconds and involve a thorough cleaning of the front and back of the hands, as well as the areas between fingers and under the nails.

Since damp faucets can provide inviting homes for cold and flu germs, cleanliness experts generally recommend turning knobs with paper towels and, similarly, activating blow dryers with paper or even elbows. In fact, it’s because of such concerns that companies like UniFirst are now finding a surging demand for motion-activated, hands-free soap dispensers and touch-free faucets.

As experts at the Mayo Clinic point out, hand washing doesn't take much time or effort, but it certainly offers great rewards in terms of preventing illness—particularly, they would likely add, when it comes to enjoying a sneeze-free cold and flu season!


About UniFirst

UniFirst (NYSE: UNF), a North American leader in the supply and servicing of uniforms, workwear, and protective clothing, outfits more than 1.5 million workers each business day. The company's most popular brands include UniWeave®, SofTwill®, UniWear®, and Armorex FR®. UniFirst also offers Facility Service Programs including floor mats, mops, and restroom products. For more information, contact UniFirst at 800-455-7654 or visit www.unifirst.com.

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