Handwashing: Cool water as effective as hot for removing germs Featured

They discovered that washing in cold water removes just as many germs as hot.

The small study of 20 people found using water at 15 degrees left hands as clean as water heated to 38 degrees.

In this study, scientists at Rutgers University-New Brunswick wanted to find out if popular assumptions about the benefits of warm or hot water and official guidance on hot water - given to the food industry in the U.S. - held true. The participants were also asked to use varying amounts of soap, from 0.5mm to 2mm. No matter the amount of soap or the water temperature, the amount of bacteria removed when washing was the same, reports the BBC.

In a previous study, Schaffner examined the difference between using a paper towel or airing drying hands.

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"When you want to decontaminate your hands by washing them, the soap chemically detaches the dirt and the organisms, which then come off after you rinse them", she said.

Researchers found that warm and cool water remove the same amount of harmful bacteria.

Professor Donald Schaffner said: "People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands but as far as effectiveness [goes], this study shows us that the temperature of the water used did not matter". The most basic but popular assumption was challenged: 100 degrees Fahrenheit water, 1 milliliter of non-antimicrobial (bland) soap, and 5-second lather time. "Now, what you shouldn't conclude from that is that this means you can just get away with not using any soap at all, or that you can get away with only using a very small amount of soap", says Professor Schaffner, who insists the findings do not support such a claim.

And, using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water, Schaffner pointed out.

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"Water works as a physical cleanser and washes the organisms and microbes off the hands", said Dr. Raymond Pontzer, director of infection prevention for UPMC in Pittsburgh, who was not involved in the study.

Those guidelines now recommend that plumbing systems at food establishments and restaurants deliver water at over 37 degrees Celsius for hand-washing, they said. The authors of the study hope that the agency will revise water temperature policy at that time to avoid so much wasted energy on hot water usage. "Instead of having a temperature requirement, the policy should only say that comfortable or warm water needs to be delivered".

'We are wasting energy to heat water to a level that is not necessary'. Using colder water can be more energy-efficient, and save consumers and businesses money that would have been spent in heating up the waster used, while being just as effective in cleaning one's hands.

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