Hygiene: Open Letter to Everyone

Please, please, please lets keep up the good hygiene practices that have started to be more commonplace!

This is more important now we are allowed to mix more and face coverings are not mandatory in the UK. Not just because of one virus but because of all the viruses that are spread by snot and mucus. I’m talking about keeping your hands clean to stop spreading coronaviruses, colds and ‘flu.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

It’s been good to see cleaner hands around me but I feel like that’s been dropping off, hand gel has been drying up unused, people are still sneezing and coughing onto their hands and not washing them afterwards etc.. I’ve forgotten to sanitise myself a few times.

We all, myself included, need to keep up the good fight against spreading viruses.

  • Use the inside of your elbow to cough or sneeze into. Tissues and handkerchiefs won’t prevent viruses from getting onto your hands. Handkerchiefs could actually be worse than a bare hand.
  • Don’t just sneeze or cough into the air. It’s well known that this sprays snot as well as being impolite.
  • Keep up the handwashing. Have some alcohol hand gel with you wherever you go and use it. Particularly after coughing or sneezing.
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Now some might say the elbow method is not nice because you get snot on your arm or your sleeve but it’s better than on your hand. The majority of the pathogens should stay inside your elbow and not be spread. You can see in the photo the palm, which you touch things with, is pointed away from the source of infection, your nose and mouth. If snot gets on your hand it will go onto door handles etc. as you go to get some gel or to a bathroom. It’s also the outside of your elbow that people and things will brush against not the crook. You can use alcohol gel, wipe, change your top or otherwise disinfect your elbow and then wash your hands without spreading infection. I prefer the elbow above hankies which can be worse than a bare hand or tissues that will let some snot through to your hand.

A quote from BBC Science:

First off, handkerchiefs are less hygienic than single-use tissues. When you blow your nose in a handkerchief, you’re providing a fresh influx of snot to any germs already there. If these germs are viruses, the protein in your snot can help protect them from drying out; if they’re bacteria, the extra moisture can help them to grow.

When you next use your handkerchief, any germs that survived from the previous use are transferred back to your hands, which will contaminate the next door handle you touch. You can do a lot to limit this spread by washing your hands every time you blow your nose, but this isn’t always practical. Far more hygienic is to use a tissue and then throw it out.

What’s more, handkerchiefs are worse for the planet, too. A 2012 study by environmental consultants Ecosystem Analytics found that the CO2 emissions and pollution produced during the manufacture of a cotton handkerchief outweighed any savings over its lifetime compared to disposable tissues, even if you kept the same hanky for nine years.

So, please everyone, lets keep up the good work we’ve been doing!

Here’s a photo of a flower to make you happy 🙂


BBC Science Magazine and handkerchiefs: https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/is-it-better-to-use-a-handkerchief-or-a-tissue/

CDC Hand Washing: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

Cough or sneeze into your elbow: https://covid19.govt.nz/health-and-wellbeing/protect-yourself-and-others-from-covid-19/cough-or-sneeze-into-your-elbow/