The Fox News host claimed germs are “not a real thing” because he cannot see them. Mr Hegseth said: “My 2019 resolution is to say things on air that I say off air. I don’t think I’ve washed my hands for 10 years.”
Co-hosts Ed Henry and Jedediah Bila chuckled as Mr Hegseth continued: “I don’t really wash my hands. I inoculate myself.
“Germs are not a real thing.
“I can’t see them, therefore, they’re not real.”
The revelation caused uproar on Twitter. One Twitter user wrote: “Hey, Pete Hegseth pass me that donut at Fox News said No One today except for Chris Christie.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “Remind me never to accept a dinner invitation to his house. Or shake his hand.”
While one person said: “This is the exact reason I don’t participate in potlucks at work. You pretty much know the people who are “unclean.” Gross and very befitting of Fox Hosts.”
Twitter user Kassevy also wrote: “Other things you can’t see, therefore must not be real: heat, gravity, atoms, god…”
Following the claim, Mr Hegseth’s mother chimed in and called on her son to start washing his hands.
In a video message uploaded to the Fox News star’s Twitter, she said: “Hey, Pete, it’s your mum back here in Minnesota. Listen, I’ve been hearing some reports that you have not been washing your hands.
“Not a good idea, son. It might be a good start to start going back to what we taught you. Just a tip.”
But some Twitter user did agree with Mr Hegseth. One wrote: “I’m with you on hand washing. I’m almost 70 and haven’t had a cold or flu in years. Our bodies need some germs to learn how to fight them.
“Too many germaphobes out there.”
But findings from Rutgers University claimed whichever temperature and soap you use, you have to scrub your hands for at least ten seconds to get rid of harmful food poisoning bacteria.
According to a 2017 study, water at a cool 15c or 60F was as good as water at 37.7C or 100F and antibacterial soap was no better than normal soap.
Professor Donald Schaffner said: “People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands but as far as effectiveness, this study shows us that the temperature of the water used didn’t matter.
“This study may have significant implications towards water energy, since using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water.”