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Washing Hands, Hot or Cold?

by (22913)
Updated October 22, 2014 at 3:05 AM
Created August 24, 2010 at 12:58 AM

So much else has been proven misguided, I was scalding my hands Today and said, ugh, I wonder if this is wrong too?

Does hot as you can stand it matter?

Is it just about friction?

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18701 · September 02, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Hahaha, I kind of like just walking out of the bathroom at Walmart or something without washing them. People look at me like I'm nuts! I really, really don't get sick though, so I don't care if it grosses people out, I'm going minimal washing.

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1932 · September 02, 2011 at 6:19 PM

I've been looking for an answer like this! I find myself sneaking around the bathroom at work because people **listen** for others to wash their hands. While I do rinse them off, and I use a little bit of soap after a BM, basically I don't really wash my hands all that much. I really can't remember the last time I was actually sick.

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2423 · November 29, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Sometimes "logic" can get you into trouble. What do you think the purpose of a fever is?

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18701 · November 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM

LOL! My daughter once set a snack on the toliet seat in a public bathroom so she could undo her pants, then put it back in her mouth! (She was 3 and just potty trained and wanting to do things herself.) It freaked me out at the time, but she was fine! She is also rarely ill!

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2261 · November 28, 2010 at 4:58 PM

My daughter (age 14) has always been a nail biter and she is NEVER sick. When she used to get off the bus I would think to myself, omg, all those kids hands touch that hand rail, now she is putting her hands in her mouth!! Scary, but apparently she has a very strong immunity. Those thoughts crossed my mind in Disneyland too.

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1973 · August 24, 2010 at 4:05 PM

The common knowledge view in nursing school is it's the friction that does all the work.

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15976 · August 24, 2010 at 2:31 PM

wow, awesome question. I, too, have been thinking about this lately. I've always thought/heard the "as hot as you can stand" thing, too. But now im thinking that, perhaps like brushing/cleaning our teeth, the MECHANICAL action is more important.

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260 · August 24, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Its very funny, just yesterday as I was washing my hands I was wondering if the "paleo” way to wash hands was with no soap and cold water...and now I know. Thanks!.

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6 Answers

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11478 · August 24, 2010 at 3:11 AM

You don't need hot water to wash your hands. Water that is hot enough to kill bacteria will also scald (burn) your skin.

Effective handwashing requires:

  1. Water--an adequate volume to remove bacteria
  2. Plain soap, which is a surfactant--it allows water to penetrate the nooks and crannies of your skin, and makes the skin slippery so bacteria can be removed. Antibacterial soap is no more effective at cleaning your skin than regular soap, and also can lead to bacterial resistance problems.
  3. Friction--rub your hands together to remove dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells.
  4. Time--it takes a while to thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your hands, fingers and wrists.

Here's a how-to guide: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hand-washing/HQ00407

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are an effective, but not very paleo alternative-- http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hand-washing/HQ00407/NSECTIONGROUP=2

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20787 · August 24, 2010 at 3:34 AM

I'd just wash normally, ie with comfortable water, and then not worry about it. Some scientists now think excessive germ avoidance can actually contribute to autoimmune tendencies. If you are healthy and eating healthy, then a tiny portion of germs should be easily defeated by your immune system before they could get far.

But Stephen, you are right in that the more things turn out to be stupid advice, the more you may find yourself questioning, researching, and finding out that even more advice is also stupid. It's a very slippery slope! The more I find out, the more I see that more portions of my life are lead in ways contrary to what is commonly advised. And I've almost become a google checking addict!
-Eva

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67
2261 · November 28, 2010 at 4:58 PM

My daughter (age 14) has always been a nail biter and she is NEVER sick. When she used to get off the bus I would think to myself, omg, all those kids hands touch that hand rail, now she is putting her hands in her mouth!! Scary, but apparently she has a very strong immunity. Those thoughts crossed my mind in Disneyland too.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705
18701 · November 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM

LOL! My daughter once set a snack on the toliet seat in a public bathroom so she could undo her pants, then put it back in her mouth! (She was 3 and just potty trained and wanting to do things herself.) It freaked me out at the time, but she was fine! She is also rarely ill!

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18701 · November 28, 2010 at 8:02 PM

I am anti handwashing unless I have been working with raw food. I'm weird that way and it really bothers my mom, but I don't get sick very often. I am also don't do the anti-bacterial stuff at all. I like germs. They make me stronger most of the time.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705
18701 · September 02, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Hahaha, I kind of like just walking out of the bathroom at Walmart or something without washing them. People look at me like I'm nuts! I really, really don't get sick though, so I don't care if it grosses people out, I'm going minimal washing.

145d4b0f988af15acc6b26eccc1f4895
1932 · September 02, 2011 at 6:19 PM

I've been looking for an answer like this! I find myself sneaking around the bathroom at work because people **listen** for others to wash their hands. While I do rinse them off, and I use a little bit of soap after a BM, basically I don't really wash my hands all that much. I really can't remember the last time I was actually sick.

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1397 · August 24, 2010 at 3:09 AM

I'm pretty sure, what the hot water does is speed up the action of mixing the amphilic soap molecules with dirt and such. It would also make any lipids more liquid. I would just go with as warm water as you feel like, not scalding.

Here's a bit more info:

http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5481113_use-hot-water-wash-hands.html

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836 · November 28, 2010 at 3:18 PM

Of course hot water is irrelevant. I mean, just integrate it logically with what you know about the rest of the world. Doesn't bacteria grow more easily in the warm water of the tropics? In biology class in high school, didn't you grow bacteria in a dish of agar kept at warm temperatures? The answer has nothing to do with Paleo, just logic.

Unless of course you're scrubbing a greasy pot. I would recommend warm-hot water if your hands are covered in meat fat or something. In that case heating up the lipids makes it more likely to wash off your hands.

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2423 · November 29, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Sometimes "logic" can get you into trouble. What do you think the purpose of a fever is?

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2423 · August 24, 2010 at 11:07 AM

There was a study within the last year which showed that water temperature is irrelevent as long as soap is used properly (15 seconds, etc). I thought I had bookmarked it, but I can't find it.

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