Caleb’s Concepts: Why washing your hands isn’t enough


Caleb Garbuio, Columnist

If you’re a pathogen, your kryptonite is people washing their hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that handwashing reduces the transmission of respiratory diseases from the general population by 16-21%. Despite reducing infectious diseases by a significant margin, washing your hands is not enough to halt the spread of COVID-19. 

That is because COVID-19 is able to survive on plastic and stainless steel up to 72 hours after application on these surfaces. COVID-19’s close relative SARS can live up to 96 hours on glass surfaces. Therefore, handwashing loses its effectiveness after someone comes into contact with a surface carrying COVID-19.

For example, take mobile phones. One study suggests that the average person touches their phone 2,617 times a day. Another study found that people touch their face 23 times per hour, and 44% of these interactions are with the mucous membrane. People take their phone everywhere, even to the restroom. 

This ever present contact is dangerous should the device come into contact with COVID-19. This is an example of a potential transmission: Oops, I have a Snapchat notification from my friend; I must reply. Now, I have an itch in my nose; I must scratch. This begs the question, when was the last time any of us actually cleaned our phones?

Disinfecting items we frequently use, is an additional precaution we must adopt to keep ourselves and loved ones safe. Nobody wants to negligently endanger our loved ones and expose them to harmful pathogens. Thus, wiping your phone with a disinfectant wipe once a day would reduce the likelihood of exposing loved ones to COVID-19.