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The rule of thumb for washing your hands is 20 seconds: Here's why

The coronavirus is forcing people to think about something they should always worry about: washing their hands properly to prevent the spread of the virus.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The deadly coronavirus is forcing people to think about something we all should be doing and thinking about all the time: good hygiene and hand washing. 

The rule of thumb is a solid, 20-second wash with warm water and soap. WCNC Charlotte's Bill McGinty demonstrated why by using a product called Glo-Germ, which will simulate dirty, germy, unwashed hands under a UV light. 

Many people, too many people, just give a quick wash, even when using the bathroom. McGinty did the same. Under that UV light, his hands were still very dirty. 

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Back for another five seconds, half of what the experts say is a thorough wash yielded a better result, but his hands were still dirty. Another five seconds, bringing the total to 15 seconds improved Bill's hands, but they were still dirty. 

Finally, a full 20-second wash was the last test. Each time, warm water and the same soap were used. After 20 seconds, Bill's hands were much cleaner with way better results. 

It's important to know that we should be doing this every time, all the time, not just because of the coronavirus. In fact, four of five people skip washing their hands in the bathroom, and two out of three don't even use soap. 

When it comes to gender, women are cleaner than men and better at following good hygiene practices. Health experts say hand sanitizer will work in a pinch but soap and warm water is the preferred method of washing your hands.  

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