Fist bump for better hygiene

If you want to cut down on the spread of bacteria, try ditching the traditional handshake greeting and instead give a fist bump.

Researchers have found that fist-bumping transmits significantly fewer bacteria than handshaking or high-fiving someone, while still making hand-to-hand contact, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers performed trials to determine if there was a less-germy alternative to handshaking.

In the experiment, the greeter stuck a sterile-gloved hand into a container of germs. Once the glove was dry, the greeter exchanged a handshake, fit bum or high-five with a sterile-gloved recipient.

After the exchange, the receiving gloves were immersed in a solution to count the bacteria transferred during contact, according to a news release about the research.

The experiment revealed nearly twice as many bacteria were transferred during a handshake compared to the high-five, and significantly fewer bacteria were transferred during a fist bump than a high-five.

Higher bacterial transmission was linked to longer hand-to-hand contact and stronger grips, according to the researchers.

“Adoption of the fist bump as a greeting could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases between individuals,” study author David Whitworth said in the news release. “It is unlikely that a no-contact greeting could supplant the handshake; however, for the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the fist bump as a simple, free and more hygienic alternative to the handshake.”

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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