Getting a clean start might be more than a figure of speech. Washing your hands could help clear your mind and bring a fresh perspective.

That's according to a University of Toronto study published recently in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, which stated that the act of cleansing one's hands can alter the pursuit of goals, reduce the importance of previous goals and emphasize future targets.

The applications can extend beyond the workplace. Teachers who are trying to encourage their students to think outside the box can simply call for a bathroom break. That could shake loose some new energy.

Instead of heading out for a cup of coffee when you're hit with writer's block, try turning on the tap. That might also be a good solution when you're about to fire off a tempestuous email at work.

Discretion, and clean hands, might be the better part of valor. And warm, soapy water could be what keeps you out of hot water — even though the water temperature might not matter that much.

A Rutgers University study concluded that soap and cold water is just as effective at preventing the spread of germs and stemming bacteria as warm or hot water.

Keeping your hands clean is a good habit anyway. Offices are full of germ "hot spots."

A study of office spaces ranging from law firms to manufacturing facilities and call centers by Kimberley-Clark Professional in consultation with Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona showed high levels of contamination on a variety of surfaces.

Swabs taken showed germs plentiful in shared spaces, with 75 percent of sink faucet handles, 48 percent of microwave door handles, 23 percent of water fountain buttons and 21 percent of vending machine buttons revealing ATP readings of 300 or more. Those readings indicate a high risk for illness, researchers reported. Additionally, personal workspace items such as computer mice and phones showed levels above 100, the study stated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers hygiene so important that it dedicates a page on its website to technique on hand-washing. The Mayo Clinic follows suit, presenting a case of do's and don'ts on washing your hands.

Healthcare workers were more inclined to wash their hands when they were alerted to bacteria present, CNN reported. At the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, staff members improved their hand hygiene after seeing images of millions of bacteria around their workplace, researchers said.

It seems that studying cleanliness, particularly in regard to hand-washing, is a popular topic.

Earlier research by the University of Michigan concluded that "cleaning one's hands removes more than physical contaminants; it also removes residues of the past from the guilt of past transgressions to doubts about past decisions." Another study indicated that participants were more willing to take risks when they have "washed away" bad luck, researchers reported.

In some places, hand-washing is easier said than done. Researchers at the University of Buffalo, headed by Dr. Pavani Ram, reported that in low-income nations, access to soap and water is limited. Because of that, residents particularly children are more vulnerable to diseases, the study stated.

"Never before has handwashing been systematically measured in so many countries," Ram said in a news release.

Now we have plenty of research to back it up: Clean hands result in a working mind.