Washing your hands up to ten times each day slashes the risk of catching COVID-19 by a third, a study suggests.
Researchers at University College London said their study proves the simple act can can protect you against the killer infection.
They studied more than 1,600 Britons over three winter seasons in the past to see how often they caught the common cold, which is caused by similar coronaviruses.
Participants had reported their hand hygiene routine, describing it as low, moderate or high.
Those who washed their hands moderately - between six to ten times daily - slashed the risk of falling ill by 36 per cent compared to those who did it zero to five times a day.
First author of the study Sarah Beale, from UCL's Institute of Health Informatics, said: '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.
'It's important to highlight that frequency of handwashing is only one aspect of hand hygiene.
'We also know that both longer duration of handwashing and the context of handwashing e.g. upon returning home or before eating – have been associated with lower overall risk of influenza or influenza-like-illness.
'Good hand hygiene should be practised at all times regardless of whether you show symptoms or not.
'This will help protect yourself and prevent unwittingly spreading the virus to others around you.'
The research, which has been published in Wellcome Open Research but not peer-reviewed, draws on data from three winter cohorts (2006 to 2009) of the England-wide Flu Watch study.
Each of the 1,633 participants provided baseline estimates of hand hygiene behaviour and coronavirus infections were identified from nasal swabs.
Source: The Daily Mail