Is using hot water to wash your hands better than using cold? Do you kill more germs or bacteria with hot water? The debate rages on and it seems that everyone has a different take on the subject. It makes sense that hot water would kill more of the bacteria on the surface of your hands, but is that truly the case? In a 2005 report by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, scientists found no evidence that washing with hot water had increased benefits, or that it made much of a difference altogether. During the study, subjects who washed their hands with 40 degrees Fahrenheit water had the same amount of left-over contaminates as those who washed their hands in 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Between the two subjects, they found that temperature of the water had “no effect on transient or resident bacterial reduction.” In fact, they actually discovered that washing in hot water might cause some soaps to react in irritation when using hotter water, rather than cold.

Other bacteria may also enjoy the warmer water rather than cold, as researchers have found that some bacteria may increase after being exposed to higher temperatures. E. Coli and Listeria were commonly found to increase in warmer/hotter temperatures of hand washing water. In the end, it really comes down to the amount of time you spend washing, the soap/anti-bacterial agent being used, and the method you use to ensure that every nook and cranny of your hands is properly washed.

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