Alton Brown’s Take on the Perfect Hand-Washing Technique

The world economy may be collapsing right now thanks to COVID-19, and scenes out of Titanic may literally be playing out in grocery stores, but it’s safe to say one thing as of March, 2020: The future of hand washing has never been brighter! We’ve seen so many resourceful ways for people to reconsider and beef up their hand-washing game recently, and now we have a new, especially thorough take on the ol’ soap-a-dope from chef-actor extraordinaire, Alton Brown.

In this COVID-19-inspired hand washing tutorial, Brown, a chef and entertainer probably best known for his television show, Good Eats, discusses how to best deploy “the yardstick of civilization,” a.k.a. soap, for hand washing. And while there’s some science at the beginning of the video concerning the way soap’s able to remove viruses from skin, the highlight is definitely Brown’s masterful, deeply satisfying 30-second hand wash.

There are a few interesting facets of Brown’s technique. He says, for example, that a bar of soap is the way to go, versus liquid soap. It is “more efficient” and “less impactful on the environment”. Brown also notes that it doesn’t matter whether you use cold or hot water, and that you should wring your hands like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons while washing. As far as hand sanitizers, Brown says that “they can’t physically remove the viruses [on your hands] or even actually reach them all….”

Alton Brown's Take on the Perfect Hand-Washing Technique_1

Brown showing off an anthropomorphized version of a soap molecule. 

Although Brown gives some detail about how soap can help remove viruses, knowing how it works in general can be helpful. Essentially, soap is a chemical compound that’s able to act as a molecular connector between (soluble) particles and grime and water; i.e. soap allows dirt, oils, etc. to mix with water when they otherwise wouldn’t. This is why washing with water only is not sufficient for cleaning your hands.

Also, in case this needs to be reiterated, do not cut off your hands if you can’t find soap. Although Brown does it in the video, there is no IRL version of “Hand Crafters” from Futurama. Speaking of which, who else is looking for some great quarantine content?

What do you think about Alton Brown’s hand-washing tutorial? Is this the best method you’ve ever seen?Do you have a technique that would blow this one out of the soapy water? Let us know in the comments!

Images: Alton Brown 

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