Think hand sanitizing alone works? Think again

See how a special education teacher and a behavioral specialist take bread and turn it into a science experiment to show why hand washing matters!

Dayna Robertson, a special education teacher, and Jaralee Metcalf, a behavioral specialist, who both work at Discovery Elementary in Idaho Falls, ID, set out to teach their students a lesson about the importance of handwashing. Using a simple loaf of white bread they conducted a very simple, and yet very effective visual teaching moment on why handwashing is so important to our health.

"We took fresh bread and touched it. We did one slice untouched. One with unwashed hands. One with hand sanitizer. One with washed hands with warm water and soap. Then we decided to rub a piece on all our classroom Chromebooks," Metcalf says in a Dec. 5 Facebook post.

They put each slice of bread in resealable plastic bags and waited 3 to 4 weeks. The results were remarkable!


The slice touched by clean hands was nearly perfect, and the one the teachers rubbed on the chrome books was almost completely covered in mold. The slice touched by dirty hands had significant mold as well. The most surprising result was the piece of bread handled by students who used only hand sanitizer, it had a good amount of mold on it too.

WebMD Senior Medical Director and pediatrician Hansa Bhargava, MD, shares "Handwashing is probably the most effective way to prevent infections ... [it] can get rid of dirt, spores, and pesticides, while sanitizers may not," Bhargava says.

How you wash your hands is as important as the fact that you are washing them. Using soap and wetting and washing for a few seconds will not work! Following the CDC guidelines is the best way to ensure your hands are cleaned properly:

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and get some soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
  • Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the palms, backs, fingers, between your fingers, and under your nails. Keep scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song twice or sing the ABC's song once!
  • Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel (paper for schools)

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