Washing one’s hands six-to-10 times a day lowers the risk of developing seasonal coronavirus infections, according to a study awaiting peer review. The results underscore the importance of simple hygiene prevention measures during the current pandemic, the researchers claim.

Investigators used data from three successive studies of winter viral infections and self-reported handwashing behavior. Study participants who washed their hands six-to-10 times each day had a 36% reduced likelihood of infection when compared to those who washed their hands less often. Higher intensity handwashing had no significant association with risk.

“Given that COVID-19 appears to demonstrate similar transmission mechanisms to seasonal coronaviruses, these findings support clear public health messaging around the protective effects of handwashing during the pandemic,” said Sarah Beale, Ph.D. 

Handwashing frequency is only one aspect of hand hygiene, Beale added. “We also know that both longer duration of handwashing and the context of handwashing — for example upon returning home or before eating — have been associated with lower overall risk of influenza or influenza-like illness.”

The study was published in Wellcome Open Research. Studies that are not yet peer reviewed are subject to change.