Handwashing Timer Makes Sure The Suds Stay On Long Enough

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”? How we wonder why you’d resort to singing a ditty to time your handwashing when you can use your social isolation time to build a touch-free electronic handwash timer that the kids — and you — might actually use.

Over the last few months, pretty much everyone on the planet has been thrust into strange, new, and oftentimes scary practices to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Judging by the number of people we’ve seen leaving public restrooms without a visit to the washbasin before the outbreak began — and sadly all too often since — we collectively have a lot of work to do in tightening up our handwashing regimens. Time on target and plenty of friction are the keys to that, and [Denis Hennessy]’s “WashTimer” aims to at least help you out with the former. His build is as simple as can be: an Arduino driving an LED matrix when a proximity sensor fires. Wave your dirty paws in front of the unit as you start to scrub up, and the display goes through a nicely animated 20-second countdown, at which time it’s safe to rinse off.

[Denis] purposely made this design as simple and as customizable as possible. Perhaps you’ve got a Neopixel ring lying about rather than the LED matrix, or maybe an ultrasonic sensor would work better for you. Be creative and take this design where it needs to go to suit your needs. We can’t stress enough that handwashing is your number one defense; if you don’t need to moisturize your hands at least three times a day, you’re probably not washing often or long enough. And 20 seconds is way longer than you think it is without a prompt.

21 thoughts on “Handwashing Timer Makes Sure The Suds Stay On Long Enough

  1. I like the Bene Gesserit litany against fear – it takes a little over 20 seconds if you don’t cheat, and no batteries required:

    “I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

  2. The real need for hacks here is getting rid of handles. Flushers have been done the most but not by code/law, as far as I know. Door handles, faucet handles, soap driper, paper towel handles, those are the next frontier to take over. Bar soap, ugh. Step on it! The valves, that is.
    I have made an issue about this for years, now it’s time.

    1. I would gladly pay for a decent step-valve for the kitchen sink. So much time wasted when hand-washing dishes and needing to reach up to turn the water on and off. With a step valve, you’d never have to take your hands off the dishes, and you wouldn’t leave those puddles of water the drip off the faucet handle. Good for touch-free handwashing too.

      For reference: https://www.globalindustrial.com/p/plumbing/sinks/scrub-sinks/531fs-floor-mount-scrub-sink-with-double-foot-pedal-valve

      Maybe a tad less industrial looking, of course.

      1. Ok, you would pay for that feature, but would the general public pay for that feature.
        Foot Pedals on the floor !!
        NO, I would not pay for that feature.
        I have dual vertical faucet handles so I can use my elbows.

  3. The whole handwashing thing is rather silly. It doesn’t stop the spread, but just provided false sense of security. The virus mostly spreads through respiratory droplets produced when people talk next to you.

      1. Droplets go from one person’s mouth into your nose when you take a breath of air.

        That’s why hand washing is mostly useless. Everybody wearing a mask would be a much better idea.

        1. People touch their faces hundreds of times a say, more so when one or another orifice is leakier than usual. The hands pick up droplets, the droplets are transferred to whatever the person touches, to be transferred again to someone else’s hands, then onto their face, and bam – new infection.

          Fomites. Look it up.

          Effective handwashing breaks that cycle of transmission. It might not do you any good when you have someone sneeze in your face, but saying it’s “rather silly” is like saying seatbelts aren’t effective because they don’t do anything to save the lives of pedestrians who are struck by cars.

  4. Honestly people, learn one of the correct sequences for thoroughly washing your hands and you’ll find that you can’t get through it in less than the recommended time. Eg palms – one thumb – the other thumb – between fingers front – back of one hand – back of other hand – between fingers back one hand – between fingers back other hand – tips of one hand fingers – tips of the other hand fingers, start rinsing. Good luck getting through that in under 20 seconds.

    1. This.
      I worked in a food factory for several years where we were taught and required to wash our hands properly. I haven’t worked there for more than a decade but still wash my hands that way.

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