Hygiene. Cleaning Hands. Washing hands with soap

A recent study suggests that using a three-step method of applying alcohol-based hand rub for 15 seconds is as effective as the 30-second protocol recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Science Daily reported that WHO guidelines recommend a six-step, 30-second application technique. But, researchers from a hospital in Switzerland say a simpler, three-step, 15-second process works just as well.

According to the report:
"Twenty healthy volunteers (aged 18 to 51 years) were randomly assigned to rub their hands by following four different techniques — the six-step hand hygiene technique for 30 seconds; the six-step hand hygiene technique for 15 seconds; the three-step hand hygiene technique for 30 seconds; and the three-step hand hygiene technique for 15 seconds. Because this was a randomised crossover trial, each participant was assigned to all four groups.
"Results showed that a shorter application time of 15-second rubs was as effective at reducing bacterial counts on the hands of participants compared to the recommended 30-second hand rub, irrespective of the hand hygiene technique."

Proper hand hygiene — in this case, proper hand sanitizing — is an effective step in reducing the spread of infectious diseases. But Science Daily reports that people are not sanitizing properly. The study suggests that reducing the number of steps involved in the technique could help improve compliance.

Currently, WHO recommends sanitizing in six steps:
• Apply a handful of alcohol-based hand rub into the palm of the hands
• Rub hands palm to palm, palm to back of hands and between fingers, switch hands and repeat
• Rub hands palm to palm again
• Rub back of fingers and palm with fingers interlocked, switch hands and repeat
• Rub rotationally each thumb
• Clean finger tips by rubbing tips rotationally over the palm of the opposite hand
Once dry, hands are sanitized.

The research outlined in Science Daily did not specify which of the WHO steps would be omitted in their three-step, 15-second variation.