The Sydney strain of norovirus is a highly contagious form of gastrointestinal virus that can live on surfaces for weeks. It is commonly communicated by touching a contaminated surface and then putting hands or fingers in the mouth. When it comes to preventing norovirus, hand sanitizer is no substitute for washing hands with soap and water, which is the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) recommendation for preventing its spread.

To further guard against infection from microorganisms like norovirus, Georgia-Pacific Professional stresses that proper hand drying with a paper towel can be as important as washing with soap and water. A Mayo Clinic study determined that because bacteria is more likely to be transmitted from wet skin than dry skin, proper hand drying after washing should be an integral part of the hand hygiene process.

Another study showed that paper towels can reduce bacteria on finger pads by up to 76 percent and on palms by up to 77 percent. To further help prevent cross-contamination from infected surfaces, touchless towel and soap dispensers can play an important role.

Hand Washing 101
When it comes to helping prevent illness, using a proper hand washing technique is critical. The following steps are based on recommendations by the CDC as the right way to wash hands.

1. Wet your hands with clean, running warm water.
2. Add some soap and rub hands together so the soap lathers up. Make sure to rub the soap between your fingers and under your fingernails.
3. Continue rubbing your hands for 20 seconds. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice to time yourself.
4. Rinse your hands well under running water.
5. Dry your hands using a paper towel. Remember to dry between your fingers.
6. Turn off the faucet with the paper towel and then throw the towel in the waste basket.