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How Often Should You Wash Your Hands When You Travel?

While traveling, have you ever wondered how often you should wash your hands when you travel? According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), washing your hands is one of the most important ways that you can prevent the spread of infections like COVID-19.

Why It’s Important to Wash Your Hands While You’re Traveling

According to officials, the two best ways to avoid the coronavirus when you’re outside of your home are to correctly wash your hands and to maintain social distancing. Unfortunately, when you’re traveling, and especially when you’re traveling by plane, maintaining a six-foot distance from the people around you isn’t always possible. So, it’s even more important to keep your hands as clean as possible to reduce your chance of infecting yourself with the coronavirus via something you inadvertently touched.
Officials believe that the most common way the coronavirus is spread is person to person, via droplets ejected by an infected person when they cough or sneeze. But, when an infected person comes into contact with surfaces, they can leave the virus behind where those who aren’t vigilant can pick them up and introduce it to their bodies when they touch their face.
The coronavirus can survive on surfaces for several days, depending on the surface:
  • Glass – 5 days.
  • Wood – 4 days.
  • Plastic & stainless-steel – 3 days.
  • Cardboard – 24 hours.
  • Copper surfaces – 4 hours.

When It’s Important to Wash Your Hands When Traveling

After you use the bathroom: this one is a no-brainer. In a bathroom, you’ll be touching some of the most often handled surfaces in the airport or your destination. Be sure to wash them thoroughly. It’s important to scrub between your fingers, the backs of your hands, under your fingernails, and your wrists. When you’re done, opt to dry your hands with a paper towel if possible. While air dryers save on paper, they also spread germs around.
Before AND AFTER you eat: There’s no such thing as overkill during a global pandemic. While most of us already wash our hands before we eat, it’s important to also wash them after. Often, hand sanitizer alone won’t cut it. After a meal, your hands are likely to have come into contact with at least some of your food. That contact can leave behind a residue that can make hand sanitizer less effective.
After your security screening: The security screening area, and the screening bins in particular, are another one of the germiest places in an airport. Everyone who enters the airport has to pass through here. And some of those people may be asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus. After you pass through security while avoiding touching your face, head to the nearest bathroom to wash your hands.

What If You Can’t Wash Your Hands When Traveling?

When you’re on the road, soap and water aren’t always readily available. And, in that case, your best bet is to apply hand sanitizer. While handwashing is the CDC’s recommendations as the MOST effective way to combat the coronavirus, hand sanitizer is a close second. That is if it’s used correctly.
The best hand sanitizer: There are many hand sanitizers out there, but not all are created equal. For the best protection for your hands, use an alcohol-based gel that contains at least 60% alcohol. There are hand sanitizers on the market that use alcohol substitutions to disinfect your hands, but these are not as effective.
The best application: Just like there are best practices for washing your hands, there are best practices for sanitizing. As when you wash your hands, be sure to get between your fingers, the backs of your hands, and your wrists. Then, to ensure maximum effectiveness, rub the hand sanitizer in until it’s dry.
Don’t leave home without it: In pre-coronavirus times, you were pretty likely to find a bottle of hand sanitizer at your local drug store, or even in the airport book store. That is no longer the case. Hoarding and increased hand sanitizing have made this product hard to come by. So, before you hit the road, make sure to purchase your own supply.

And, for goodness sake, stop touching your face

One of the worst things you can do while you’re traveling is to touch your face. Your No matter how vigilant you are with hand washing and hand sanitizer, it’s incredibly difficult to stay protected 100% of the time.
We know, it’s really hard. If the coronavirus has made you realize just how often you touch your face when you’re out and about, join the club. According to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, most of us touch our faces around 23 times per hour, on average. For many of us, it’s a reflex that’s very hard to control, even when there’s a lot at stake.
 But, thankfully, the experts at FlyerTalk have come up with a method for How to Stop Touching Your Face (for Coronavirus’ Sake). They’ve been perfecting the skill of avoiding touching their own faces and have shared that experience with the rest of the world. A few quick pointers:
  • Wear foundation: you’ll be less motivated to touch your face because it could screw up the makeup.
  • Wear a headband if you have long hair: you’ll be less likely to brush hair out of your face.
  • Keep Q-tips handy: for serious face itches
  • Use anti-itch cream: to preemptively calm any typically itchy parts of your face.
  • Wear a mask at home: as a reminder and potential training measure to stop you from touching your face.
  • Use a tissue: instead of your hands.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer regularly.
  • Wear gloves: at least while you’re transiting through airports and other crowded places.
  • Put on lotion with a strong, unpleasant smell: so you’ll get a reminder when your hands touch your face.
  • Put on anti-nail-biting polish if you’re a nail-biter
  • Use the back of your hand or part of your arm if you need to touch your face.


Image Source: Pixabay

flyingtall May 5, 2020

So, Crabbie, what's the myth about minimum 60% alcohol being necessary to kill the virus with alcohol, that alcohol is more effective than average hand sanitizers, that one of worst things you can do is touch your face, that we touch our face an of 23 times an hour (this is not about you), the length of time that the virus lasts on different surfaces, that CDC is a good source of information... hmm, I think that covers most of the article. So, care to specify and provide your sources of evidence? You are the myth maker here, but I guess one could guess that from your handle.

snidely May 5, 2020

Can you even get thru security w. a aand sanitizer?

Crabbie May 5, 2020

Not much science in this article, but plenty of myths and paranoia which is contributing to the economic situation we face.

judyush May 5, 2020

Travelled NCL to DXB with Emirates March 14th Business class. Toilets ran out of soap less than halfway through the flight!!!

tiharoa May 5, 2020

Considering how dirty bathrooms on planes usually are, I wonder how I could flight for 17 hours without using them.