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Live Well. Eat Well.

Handwashing, there’s an app for that!

Track your activity, sleep, and now handwashing. Yes, there’s an app for that! Handwashing can be a challenge. In today’s world, you can enlist the assistance of an app for handwashing direction and detection. Handwashing apps are available for download to your smartphones through the app store. The newest technology for handwashing includes the smartwatch. A first of their kind, these smartwatches use built-in motion sensors, microphones, and a countdown timer technology. In general, smartwatch apps can prompt you to wash your hands, and send an alert if you finish handwashing earlier than the recommended 20 seconds of lather time. They also will send a reminder to wash hands, for example, when returning home. The apps provide statistical analysis of daily handwashing with weekly averages to confirm you are washing properly.

Parents, kids too can join in the experience with fun and interactive handwashing apps. By searching on the app store, you can download free apps that encourage your child to wash hands properly and inspire good habits. The same approach is used but in a fun interactive manner. These apps use time, music, and graphics that narrate washing hands and scrubbing the dirt away. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is trying apps for healthcare professionals. On their website, they reference iScrub Lite as a pilot for hand-hygiene compliance. Using apps can help to achieve CDC handwashing goals; to reduce disease-causing germs or pathogens that can cause disease. According to the CDC, keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. 

The CDC advises these steps for proper handwashing:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water
  • Use soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air drying

Handwashing apps promote the basic steps outlined by the CDC. When it comes to handwashing, studies have revealed that consumers fail to clean their hands 97 percent of the time. Only 5 percent of people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections. With using handwashing apps, a new tool for skill development has emerged. Individuals can interact and engage with data that fosters proper handwashing, monitors success, and reviews results of individual handwashing habits.  

SourceSusan Glassman, MS Ed. is a University of Illinois Extension, Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, serving Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall, and Putnam Counties