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Washing hands in cold water is just as effective as hot water

For years, we have believed that it takes hot water to remove harmful bacteria from our hands. This has led to strict regulations in the restaurant and food industry that drive up utility costs. However, an emerging study finds there is no need to burn the germs off your hands because cold water is just as effective.

Researchers enlisted the help of 21 volunteers for the study. Over a six-month period of time, the participants were exposed to harmless bacteria. They washed their hands for ten seconds at different temperatures with various amounts of soap. The study revealed that the same amount of germs were removed regardless of the temperature of the water or the amount of soap used.

In the United States, many antibacterial soaps were banned last year after companies failed to prove they were safe to use in the long term. The FDA took action against 19 chemicals that were contained in many hand and bar soaps.

Dr Janet Woodcock is the director of the FDA’s center for evaluation and research.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” explained Dr. Woodcock. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long term.”

Donald Schaffner is a professor of Food Science at Rutgers University and an author of the hand-washing study. He suggests the findings of this study can go a long way in saving money and conserving energy.

“This study may have significant implications towards water energy, since using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water,” said Schaffner.

The findings of this study, published in the Journal of Food Protection, indicate that food industry policies should address the length of time employees wash hands rather than the temperature of the water that is used.

“I think this study indicates that there should be a policy change,” concluded Schaffner. “We are wasting energy to heat water to a level that is not necessary.”

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Source: Rutgers University

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