Flu season is creeping up on us college students and we are doing everything in our power to keep it away. Vitamin C, disinfectant, and Clorox wipes are our best friends right now, but we also must keep our hands clean to reduce spreading germs. Growing up I’m sure we all were told to wash our hands with “hot” or “warm” water to kill the germs with the heat, but how many of those germs can this water actually kill? As I searched for a topic for one of my blog posts I thought educating you, soon to be germy people, beforehand to prevent the spread of sickness that no one wants.
A research assistant from the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment in Tennessee, Amanda R. Carrico, has researched if warm or hot water really does aid in the killing of bacteria we carry on our skin. Personally, I have always known heat kills bacteria from when I got my ears pierced with a needle that had to be burned with a flame before use, or when I had a splinter in my foot as a child and my grandpa had to heat a safety pin to kill the germs before jabbing it into my heel. But what Carrico explains is the precise temperature and degree the flame or water must be to eliminate bacteria. She explains, and I quote, ” boiling water 215°F, is sometimes used to kill germs- for example to disinfect drinking water that might be contaminated with pathogens. But “hot” water for hand washing is generally within 104°F to 131°F. At the end of that range, heat could kill some pathogens but the sustained contact that would be required would scald the skin” (nationalgeographic.com) .
After analyzing the data it makes more sense, if you can barely feel the hot water on your skin or barely feel the cold water on your skin, it cant be doing much. Pain would have to be present for there to be a noticeable change, therefore Carrico’s findings would disprove this “wash your hands with warm water to kill germs” saying that the entire world has been following for years. She even found that using cold water and warm water is basically the same thing. After washing, scrubbing, and drying, there are about the same amount of germs killed with both processes which many of you may not have even realized (nationalgeographic.com).
Some people are even irritated by warm water which could actually cause irritation to the skin which is the protective layer that prevents bacteria and germs from accumulating. This finding completely refutes again, the belief of washing your hands with hot water kills germs. I have also found that washing your hands with hot water effects more than just your own skin or the germs on your skin, it effects the environment we live in. Because of this false belief we have been following for years, Carrico and her team have found that people wash their hands with warm or hot water 64 percent of the time they wash their hands at all (nationalgeographic.com). This statistic shows just how severe carbon emissions being released into the environment annually are, and the impact on the planet where we live, due to the hot water being used.
Therefore, this is me asking you to stop believing what your grandmother, mother, father, or sister has been telling you for all these years and wake up; hot water from the sink is not killing enough germs to keep the bacteria off. If we as a whole begin to wash our hands with cool water instead of hot, we can reduce the carbon emissions drastically and benefit our world as a whole.