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Soap & water Vs. Alcohol based hand rubs

EyesA picture of a man’s staring eyes and a clean citrusy smell, have been found to significantly boost hand hygiene – according to a new European behavioural science study.

The study showed that a process of exposure to certain cues can alter a person’s behaviour, without the person involved being aware of the impact of the cue.

Subjects were observed in normal hand hygiene practice and hygiene compliance was noted.  Two additional cues were then introduced.  Subjects were given access to a hand sanitizing gel dispenser (an alcohol rub) with a ‘citrusy smell’ and above the gel dispenser was placed a photograph of a pair of human eyes*.  When these two conditions or cues were present, results showed a 42% increase in hand hygiene compliance.

*It was observed that hand hygiene compliance only increased significantly when the photograph displayed above the
dispenser was of a pair of male eyes.  No significant increase noted when the eyes were female – this was true for both male and female subjects observed.

Alcohol based preparations have two distinct advantages over soap & water:

  • Kill many more germs
  • Less drying to your skin

When should you wash your hands with soap & water?

  • When hands are visibly dirty
  • Before you eat
  • Before you prepare food items
  • After touching raw meats – e.g. chicken or beef
  • After touching animals or pets
  • After blowing your nose or sneezing
  • After going to the toilet

When should you use alcohol based hand rubs?

  • For routine cleaning of hands anytime they are visibly clean
  • If you have contact with contaminated objects in the environment – e.g. dirty tissues/nappies
  • Whenever you want to decontaminate your hands
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