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This App Gives You Other Tunes To Wash Your Hands To Besides ‘Happy Birthday’


At this stage of the coronavirus outbreak, you have probably seen the recommendation in your office bathroom and read the advice from health officials: Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent you and your community from getting sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends humming the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice if you want to time it. But what if you’re tired of singing “Happy birthday to youuu”? William Gibson, a 17-year-old developer based in the U.K., created “Wash Your Lyrics,” which uses a National Health Service infographic to pair hand-washing techniques with your favorite tunes.

“I wanted to make the poster for all my favorite songs, so I wrote a script to automate the entire process, which was a lot more fun than copy and pasting lyrics into Photoshop,” Gibson told HuffPost. “I turned it into a web app and here we are!”

His lyrics app has inspired singers like Miley Cyrus to use their own songs to inspire others to maintain good hygiene.

The U.K. secretary of state for health and social care even endorsed Gibson’s idea.

I wanted to create my own, so I chose my karaoke staple, “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers, to be my new tune to wash my hands to. As with many of these song choices, the fun is seeing the tunes juxtaposed with the hand-washing images, and seeing connections between the actions and lyrics.

If you sing these lyrics by the Killers, you will get past the recommended 20 seconds.

If you sing these lyrics by the Killers, you will get past the recommended 20 seconds.

Gibson’s tool pulls the lyrics from the website Genius on a line-by-line basis, so the lyrics you pick aren’t guaranteed to be exactly 20 seconds. When I timed the lyrics to “Mr. Brightside,” I actually went over 20 seconds. Gibson said he needs “to work on that, but most songs I’ve seen constitute to be [20 seconds] or longer.”

No matter what you are humming, the point is to keep washing your hands long enough for them to be clean. If having fun with it makes it easier, that’s all the better.

“I think it’s important that people spend the recommended 20 seconds no matter how long it takes to sing the song lyrics,” Gibson said, “but myself and a lot of other people that have contacted me are having a lot more fun while washing our hands!”

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