Handwash faucet and sink with taps or push button to dispense water for washing hand with soap and trash in lavatory on board in airplane

It’s deep into December, and that means people are taking or preparing to take holiday trips so they can spend time with friends and family. Unfortunately, germs have plans of their own, and will look to hitch a ride on unsuspecting flyers. With that in mind, airport employees and travelers would be wise to fight back with some good old-fashioned hand hygiene.

We all know that germs spread quickly, but with intercontinental and worldwide travel now being so popular, the chances of a pandemic arising is more likely because people are carrying endemic infections and bacteria from the area from which they’re departing. While there is no way to totally stop an outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic, handwashing is a great preventative measure, reports International Airport Review.

Both the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) say handwashing is the most cost-efficient and effective way to prevent a potential pandemic, which WHO defines as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.”

There are other options, but they have their faults. The use of hand sanitizer, for example, just isn’t up to par with soap and water cleaning, while the use of a vaccine or medical treatment is both more inconvenient and expensive.

So soap and water is the best option, but can it improve things that much? Yes, actually.

A test of hands at all airports in the world would likely reveal that just 20 percent would be clean, according to research cited in the International Airport Review story. Should that level of cleanliness be improved to 30 percent, a potential infectious disease would have 21 percent less worldwide impact, says the research. Furthermore, the impact of a potential infectious disease would reduce 64 percent by doubling that level of hand cleanliness at all airports from 30 percent to 60 percent.