If all the buzz around proper hand hygiene has taught us anything, it’s that we’re probably not as clean as we thought! In fact, there’s a specific step in the hand-washing process that a lot of people omit—and it’s the reason why part of our clothes dirty, too. When we picture dirty laundry, we see stinky gym socks and pit-stained tees, but microbiologist Charles Gerba, Ph.D., states the hip portion of jeans is actually be the dirtiest. A study was done where clothing was cut from different sections of clothes—at every 6 inches—and the number of bacteria was isolated and then counted, the most bacteria were found on the hips, while the least was found under the arms.
One explanation for why the hip portion of the jeans is so dirty is that they’re touched continuously, whether we’re just standing with their hands on our hips or wiping our hands dry on our hips, bacteria will start to collect. Most people don’t wait long enough to dry their hands thoroughly, so when they leave the bathroom, they finish by using their hips when drying their hands. Wiping wet hands on the hip portion of our jeans increases the moisture level, thereby making it more receptive to bacteria. Even after we’ve washed our hands, some bacteria still remains on the hands. Properly drying your hands thoroughly lowers the risk of contamination, so as necessary as hand-washing is, hand-drying is equally important but often neglected.
Here’s what we recommend for thoroughly cleaned hands and, therefore, cleaner hips! Every time: Wash hands thoroughly by rubbing soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to use a hand towel or paper towel to dry your hands. Air dryers have been shown to blow bacterial spores into the air, so if there are paper towels in a public restroom, they’re generally the better option. But, if air dryers are the only option, they are still a better alternative to wiping on the hips. If you don’t have any access to soap and water, keep hand sanitizer on hand. But be sure to rub it in for at least 30 seconds to ensure effectiveness.