By now, you know that washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus and from spreading it to others. (In addition to social distancing, of course.) But if you read our recent post on killing coronaviruses with very hot things, you may be wondering if it is better to use hot water when you wash your hands. The good news is that you don’t need to use hot water to get your hands safe and clean!
Washing your hands gets rid of the novel coronavirus in two ways. First, soap breaks apart the virus. Second, the friction of rubbing your hands together and rinsing with water removes any remaining virus from your skin. Cool water (15 °C, 59 °F) works great on other viruses and just as well as hot water on bacteria. So keep the water temperature comfortable and focus on scrubbing with that soap (remember, any kind will do) for 20 seconds.
Last updated: April 16, 2020, 12:00 pm ET
Science review: JSS, JAB