Soap is a result of the chemical reaction of fatty acids with an alkali metal hydroxide, such as sodium or potassium. It’s actually a salt with a molecular structure that is lipophilic on one end and hydrophilic on the other. That means soap molecules are particularly good at attaching to oil particles (lipophilic), and yet still manage to attach to water particles (hydrophilic), which explains why soaps (detergents, shampoos) are effective in washing away oil build-up.
How often should a person wash his hands? Because hands can reach everywhere and touch anything, the rule of thumb is to wash them as soon as they are dirty. That said, a person should make it a habit of washing hands:
● Before and after eating,
● Before and after cooking,
● After cleaning or doing chores,
● After touching pet animals,
● After coughing or sneezing, especially when you used your hands to directly cover your mouth,
● After being outside,
● Before and after visiting a sick friend,
● Before holding the baby,
● After using the toilet, and
● After changing diapers.
There may also be other occasions that call for hand washing—so you just have to be sensitive about it. If you can’t wash your hands because soap and water are unavailable, that’s when the hand sanitizer comes handy. If there is no hand sanitizer around, then, by all means, keep your hands away from your mouth and face, and wash them as soon as you can.
Once you’ve developed a good habit of regular hand washing, teaching your kids becomes a piece of cake. (They learn best by example.) When your family has clean hands, your kids get sick less—giving you a better chance to focus on the more important things.