Steps for effective hand washing Are you washing your hands right and at the right times? If not, bacteria could multiply. Washing your hands is crucial for preventing the spread of illness and bacteria. A tiny number of germs on our hands can multiply millions of times overnight. Do your part to keep yourself and those around you healthy with these hand washing tips. When to wash your handsEveryone interacts with germs throughout the day. Wash your hands at these key times to help avoid spreading bacteria:After you use the restroom or help someone use the restroomAfter you sneeze, cough or blow your noseBefore and after you cook or prepare foodBefore and after you give first aid or care for someone who is illBefore you insert contact lensesBefore you eatAfter you touch an animal or animal wasteAfter you shake hands with someoneHow to wash your handsTake off any jewelry before washing your hands. You can keep smooth rings on, but be sure to wash around and under them.Wet your hands with lukewarm water before adding soap. This helps prevent your hands from losing moisture.Apply soap and start scrubbing. Don't forget the backs of your hands, in between your fingers and your cuticles. Clean your fingernails by rubbing the tips of your fingers on the opposite palm.Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. To keep track of the time, try singing a few verses of "Happy Birthday to You" in your head.Dry your hands completely. After drying, use a paper towel or your elbow to turn off the faucet.