Study: Cold Water as Good as Hot for Washing Hands

iStock
iStock

It’s one of those personal-care policies we don’t really think to question: Always wash your hands with hot water. It makes sense, as heat is typically considered an enemy of bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration even advises that food service kitchens should have handwashing stations with water temperatures between 38 and 42°C, or 100 and 108°F [PDF].

But according to a new study, we may be risking scalding our hands for very little payoff. Cold water may be just as effective for reducing the number of germs as hot water.

In a new report published in the Journal of Food Protection, staff at Rutgers University-New Brunswick looked at several variables in handwashing technique, including lather time, use of antibacterial soaps, and water temperature. A total of 20 volunteers washed their hands three times using water that was either 15, 26, or 38°C, with the process repeated 20 times over a six-month period. Each time, researchers looked for Escherichia coli before and after cleaning.

The result? There was no real difference in the reduction of E. coli between handwashings at 15°C (59°F) and 38°C (100°F). Participants got roughly the same amount of pathogens scrubbed off regardless of how hot the water got.

Instead of water temperature, the study’s results suggest you might want to pay closer attention to lather time. A 20-second scrub with regular soap was shown to be more effective in reducing germs than the baseline 5-second lather. This is in line with the Centers for Disease Control's guidelines, which recommend the same 20-second duration, or the time needed to hum “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice.

[h/t MedicalNewsToday]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Want to Fall Asleep Faster? Try This Breathing Technique

Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels
Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Struggling to fall asleep can feel like a hopeless battle. It often seems like the harder you try turning your brain off, the less likely it is to happen. One way to trick yourself into falling asleep fast is finding something to concentrate on other than how long you've been awake. For nights when your thoughts just won't stay quiet, try the 4-7-8 technique.

According to Simplemost, the 4-7-8 breathing method is meant to combat anxiety, restlessness, and other enemies of a good night's sleep. The actual technique is simple: Just inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Like counting sheep, measuring out your breaths gives your brain something to do that isn't obsessing about your hectic day or the day ahead.

Taking slow, deliberate breaths has also been proven to reduce stress. Neurons that influence calmness have been found in the breathing control centers of mouse brains. In humans, deep breathing has long been central to mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique functions as both a distraction from your thoughts and a way to combat any anxious sensations that may be keeping you awake.

The next time you find yourself tossing and turning at night, try anywhere between three and eight rounds of this breathing technique to calm your body and mind. And to get the best rest possible, make sure you're settling into the best sleep position for your health.

[h/t Simplemost]