Hopefully, at this point, we’ve all got the message about how washing our hands regularly, especially after touching things or people, is the best thing everyone can do to protect ourselves and others against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
(Yes, you should be washing your hands regularly anyway, you filth monsters. Are you reading this on the toilet, touching your phone, or using a computer right now? Go wash your hands.)
Washing your hands with soap is important, and better than using hand sanitizer (which itself is better than nothing) because soap destroys the lipid barrier that surrounds the virus.
The useful rule of (clean) thumbs that’s helping people to wash properly is to scrub for 20 seconds, or the length of the Happy Birthday song sung twice over. But as plenty of people have noted, “Happy Birthday To You” is not only a bit weird when you’re singing it to yourself, but also gets annoying twice in a row, let alone several times a day.
Of course, the internet provides: finding alternate songs to sing has become the internet’s favorite new utility-meme. You need something you know well enough that you can get through the full 20 seconds, and it turns out plenty of iconic songs, or even monologues, will do the trick.
You’re supposed to wash your hands for 20 sec, which is the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. But I’m tired of singing Happy Birthday and you probably are too, so I’ve done the very important public service of compiling other songs with roughly 20 sec choruses to sing:
— Jen Monnier (@JenMonnier) March 2, 2020
you’ve all heard that one of the main things we can do to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to wash our hands frequently for 20 seconds.
happy birthday can get boring so i present: taylor’s greatest 20-second hits to wash your hands to
spread the word, not germs! pic.twitter.com/raGNRW3BbL
— JEN (@inallmydreams13) March 5, 2020
Now, a teenage developer from the U.K. named William has created a tool that will make you a hand-washing how-to poster accompanied by any song you like.
Type any song and artist into WashYourLyrics.com, and it will pull the lyrics from Genius and generate a poster based on the National Health Service’s hand-washing instructions. Here’s a demo, using the first verse of a perfect song: “Gone” by Charli XCX ft. Christine and the Queens.
You can then download the poster and print it out to place above as many sinks as you have access to. If your coworkers, housemates, or bar patrons aren’t already hitting those all-important, oft-neglected fingertips and palm edges, they might pay more attention if they’re singing “All Star” in their heads.
(It also autocorrects fairly well, as I discovered when I accidentally searched for “Yesterday” by “The Bealtes”.)
If you tell me you know the words to “Lose Yourself” between “Snap back to reality” and the chorus I’ll tell you you’re lying, but that’s all you need.
The one flaw in the system is that yes, it only pulls the beginning of the song, not necessarily the chorus. But with certain songs — from “Jolene”, another popular option for hygiene karaoke, to “Shake It Off” — you probably already know the beginning just as well anyway, and if you go over the 20 seconds? My friend, your hands are extra clean, and ain’t nothing wrong with that.
(That abstract final panel/lyric combo is a meme waiting to happen all on its own, too.)
The Happy Birthday/20 seconds advice is useful and all, to be sure. But a visual aid to go with it is even better, just to get everyone into a better and more comprehensive hand-washing habit.
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