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6 hygienic ways to greet someone

The famous handshake used throughout the western world to greet someone. I don‘t know about you, but I cannot count a number of times I have shaken someone’s hand. Whether it‘s a friend, relative or colleague, I‘ve shaken a lot of hands.



That‘s why I was shocked to find out that 80% of infections are spread by hand! Could the times I‘ve had a cold or caught the flu come from a simple handshake? In light of this, mixed with Global Handwashing Day peeking its head around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to try and find some more hygienic ways of greeting someone to replace the good old fashioned handshake.

1. Fist Bump

It may surprise you to know that a fist bump transmits 90% fewer germs than a handshake does!

Some say this form of greeting was made popular by President Obama, but I remember doing this when I was a teenager.

When you think about it, compared to the palm of your hands and your fingertips, your knuckles come into far less contact with germs. This makes fist bumps a great, hygienic, greeting alternatives to handshakes.

fist bump

2.  Chinese Greeting

The traditional Chinese greeting is both respectful and hygienic!

Unlike the cool fist bump, the traditional Chinese greeting doesn‘t involve touching at all, no germs can be spread here, making this Asian greeting extremely hygienic.  It involves making a fist with one hand and using your other hand to cup it, eliminating the need to touch the person you are greeting.

Chinese greeting

3. Elbow Bump

An adaptation of the popular fist bump, the elbow bump was introduced by health officials during the avian flu scare in 2006 and gained popularity during the 2009 swine flu outbreak and the recent ebola outbreak of 2014. Its origins date back to the 1980s.

You‘ve probably guessed by now why this form of greeting became so popular – the no hand touching ethos.

For those of you unaware with this form of casual greeting, the elbow bump consists of simply touching the other person‘s elbow with your own, eliminating the need for the use of your hands – the hand being the main source for spreading germs.

4. Hat Tip

Associated with archetypal notions of Britain, the hat tip greeting brings with it a cultural expression of recognition, respect, gratitude and a polite way of greeting a friend or family member.

What‘s great about this greeting, not only is it wonderfully unique (and quite charming and funny) but involves no hand touching, a hygienic alternative to a handshake.

If you are feeling rather fancy and often find yourself wearing a hat, maybe this is the greeting for you.

5. Añjali Mudrā

The traditional Indian and Southern Asian hand gesture accompanies the traditional greeting “Namaste”. It is quite similar to the traditional Chinese greeting, but both palms are pressed together and held close to the body, typically at the heart chakra.

This greeting is wonderfully hygienic, keeping the spread of germs to a minimum, as no touching is involved. It also brings a more spiritual feel to greeting someone.


6. Nod

The simple head nod is extremely popular in western culture. With its origins based around symbolising agreement and acceptance, this gesture has evolved into an acknowledgment of someone‘s presence.

Compared to the other greetings on this list this is more of a pre-greeting, acknowledging someone before initiating a form of greeting such as a handshake or fist bump. However, as the head nod requires no touching of any kind, it is a great, hygienic way, to greet someone informally.

Is the Handshake Dead?

Now you might be thinking that due to the germs spread during a simple handshake that this form of greeting should be stopped. Well, that‘s not entirely true.

Issues surrounding handshakes and the transmission of germs can be simply defeated by practicing proper hand hygiene. Handshaking is still a great way to greet someone, just remember to wash your hands thoroughly, especially before you touch sensitive areas such as your mouth and nose, and before eating.

However, if you are feeling under the weather it is advised that you stay away from the trusted handshake and use an alternative greeting just so you keep contamination to a minimum.

How to thoroughly wash your hands

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water, preferably warm.
  2. Lather your hands with a good quality soap, making sure to get the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands using clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a good quality paper towel, making sure to dispose of it afterwards.

Hand Sanitizer

On top of washing your hands, a great way to keep on top of your hand hygiene, especially at work where you come into contact with a whole range of germs, is by using a hand sanitizer.

Keeping a small bottle by your desk and regularly using it throughout the day can make sure your hands are clean, and can prevent you, and others, from getting ill.

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