There are some lucky people who never have to deal with the frigid cold of winter. I know there are lots of people who enjoy winter, but I on the other hand am fine to see a skiff of snow on Christmas morning and then want to be back in sandal weather – or at the very least bare foot weather temperatures immediately thereafter. This detest of cold weather is somewhat contradictory as I happen to love crocheting – scarves and hats in particular.
It was then with a heavy heart that I read a recent APIC email that gloves and scarves are germy. I love scarves. They are great accent pieces to virtually any outfit and there’s such satisfaction in completing a crochet project and getting to wear a new scarf. I’m not advanced enough to crochet gloves or mitts, but I can state with conviction that I start wearing gloves as soon as my steering wheel is cold to touch in the morning. They’re a necessary piece of attire during the winter – unless you want frost bite that is. And now I’m being told scarves and gloves germy? It’s more than my already germophobic mind can take!
But I suppose if I put my logic hat on it’s not really surprising. There’s a ton of literature talking to the number of times we touch our faces with our hands. Why would this stop when we put on winter gloves? In fact, it likely increases because what does your nose do in the cold? It runs. What do you do when that happens and you do not have ready access to a tissue? You casually dab your nose with your gloved hand. Gross right? It gets better. Similar to touching our faces, over the course of the day we are constantly touching things with our hands; door handles, railings and other surfaces that have been touched by hundreds or thousands of people who had walked the same route ahead of you. Did you dab your nose with your hand before or after touching all those public spaces?
It really doesn’t matter, the ugly truth is that gloves like your bare hands pick up everything - and when was the last time you washed your gloves? The gloves I generally wear are leather or suede...I’ve NEVER washed them! According to APIC, missive gloves can carry bacteria such as E. coli and viruses such as the cold virus or flu virus. To make matters worse, the type of material your gloves are made from can directly impact the ease of transferring germs.....leather gloves of course being amongst the worse due to the ease with which they can transfer germs to another surface or face.......
Now for my beloved scarves - the flu virus can live on clothing like scarves for two or three days, while diarrhea-causing viruses, such as rotavirus and norovirus, may thrive for as many as four weeks! How many times have you coughed into your scarf...or used your scarf to dab your nose? Thankfully I do tend to wash my scarves with some frequency, but only because I love the feel of a downy soft scarf next to my neck and face.
While I am unaware of scientific studies that support all this, the International Forum on Home Hygiene put together a wonderful white paper in 2011 titled "The infection risks associated with clothing and other household linens in home and everyday life settings, and the role of laundry” which talks to the fact that clothes, like any other hand contact site, have the potential to be a link in the chain of infection transmission during normal daily activities.
Thankfully, my current crochet project is a blanket for my nephew, but I do have 3 skeins of beautiful super soft chunky yarn waiting for me to make my next hat and scarf combo! I’ll be sure to wash them more frequently; I’m just not sure what I’m going to do about my gloves!