Scientists say all that COVID hand-washing is clogging our sinks with bacteria

Istock Handwash 07292020

While the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced something you should be doing anyway — washing your filthy mitts — some have gone to the extreme, washing their hands as many as 15 times a day. 

While that’s great for getting bacteria off your hands — and thus out of your body — scientists in the U.K. say it’s clogging our sink drains with the bugs. 

The findings from the researchers at the University of Reading, published in the journal Environmental DNA, show that the most common sink designs make for the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, in your drains and pipes. 

While one might think “out of sight, out of mind” would be at play here, it’s possible that those bacteria can escape, for example when one touches the drain plug, researchers say. 

However, those bugs can also splash around the areas of your sink as you rinse your hands, the scientists caution.

“Reducing transmission of bacteria requires thorough disinfection of the sinks and surrounding areas and not just getting your hands wet.” study author Dr. Hyun Soon Gweon says in a university release.

The findings could also be a call for redesigning the traditional plumbing under your sink, they say.

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