The National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center, its research hospital, had a Hand Hygiene Awareness Day -- a kind of hand-washing health fair.
Research nurse Amina Oughourli did a demonstration in which she got to see what she missed after she washed her hands in a slip-shod way.
"What showed up was a kind of gunk glow-in-the-dark," Oughourli said in a statement. "I did the dark light simulation with the dirt, and it was pretty gruesome, so I'm going to be washing my hands pretty vigilantly -- even more so than I was before."
There are an estimated 2.5 million hospital-acquired infections each year -- some are fatal and are counted among the estimated 100,000 deaths from preventable hospital errors each year. Better hand washing is often considered "step 1," in reducing infections.
Experts suggest a good 20 seconds of hand-washing with warm water and soap can do wonders to help stop the spread of pathogens that cause infections, Oughourli said.