Kit helps teach good hand-washing

Attention Germaphobes: You may not be cleaning your hands as well as you thought.

Many people miss germs and bacteria when they wash their hands, even when they think they are doing a thorough job. GloGerm kits simulate how much bacteria can be left on hands after washing.

A typical GloGerm kit consists of a highighter orange gel and a black light. To use the kit, one must put a drop of the gel into his or her hands, rub it in all around until it is no longer visible and wash one’s hands with soap and water, said Melissa Mardoian, freshman in DGS. After washing, one places his or her hands under a black light, and whatever “germs” were missed appear glowing orange.

Mardoian used this product for her Chemistry 199 class, where she taught a hygiene lesson to an elementary school class, she said. This project is part of a larger science teaching program that the class participates in.

“The students [of the class] attend the schools weekly and teach different science lessons,” said Lauren Mahler, teaching assistant for Chemistry 199. “The objective of the hygiene lesson was to show the students how germs can stay on your skin unless you wash well with soap and water. The GloGerm was a way to give students a visual of germs being on their skin and then being washed off.”

GloGerm contains UV paint to simulate the germs, said Po-Dar Wang, senior in Engineering and partner with Mardoian on the project. Once it is rubbed in, the color is gone.

“After the kindergarteners washed their hands, they were all like grossed out by the glowing that was still on their hands,” Wang said. “Most of mine came off because I knew it was there so I scrubbed harder, but because they just washed their hands like they usually do.”

On average, there was paint remaining on top of hands, by wrists, fingernails and creases, said Mardoian. There was only one girl in the class who washed her hands perfectly, but the rest of the students were able to see that they needed to wash their hands better.

In talking to the kindergarten class about hygiene, Wang suggests that this product is used mostly for educational purposes for any age.

“GloGerm is a great tool for teaching young kids how to wash their hands from an educational standpoint,” Wang said. “It can also be used as an educational tool like for teaching employees about hygiene and contamination in the workplace.”

GloGerm is available online and is included in several different kits with prices ranging from $9.99 to $108.50, according to the website. All kits include the gel, but some come with variations of the black light.

“People who thought they were good hand washers, but after they tried the GloGerm, they were contradicted,” Mardoian said.

“When I tried it, I washed it harder than usual and still had orange on my hands. The experiment was eye opening and hopefully people will change their hand-washing habits after they try it.”