Effective vigorous techniques take time, says report
There has been a great deal of publicity regarding the necessity of effective hand washing techniques, particularly since the onset of the current pandemic, but the “physics underlying the hygienic habit has not been well-studied” – until now, according to a recent report on the Daily Mail website.
A study by South Cambridgeshire applied mathematician Paul Hammond has revealed that “vigorous scrubbing” provides tangible results, writes Ian Randall.
A two dimensional model, considering hands on a microscopic scale, depicts a “pair of wavy surfaces” which are separated by the film of soap and water liquid. The surface of the skin had comparatively deep valleys which can act as “potential wells”, trapping viruses and bacteria which the washing process is intended to remove.
Dr Hammond is quoted as saying
“If you move your hands too gently, too slowly, relative to one another, the forces created by the flowing fluid are not big enough to overcome the force holding the particle down.”
The conclusion drawn is that a faster, more vigorous motion will achieve a greater level of cleanliness – a process likened in the article to “scrubbing out a stain on a shirt.”
Hand washing techniques
The NHS website provides comprehensive video, photographic and written instruction in an article How to wash your hands.
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