Effective hand washing: An important step in good health
Are you washing your hands enough, properly and at the right times?
Washing your hands is crucial for preventing the spread of illness, bacteria, virus and disease. Knowing the proper way to wash your hands helps everyone. 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 hands
Everyone interacts with germs throughout the day. According to the Centers for Disease Control washing your hands at these key times helps avoid the spread of bacteria:
- Before eating
- Before, during and after cooking or preparing food
- Before and after giving first aid or caring for someone who is ill
- Before inserting contact lenses
- After touching a pet or any animal, animal feed or animal waste
- After shaking hands with someone
- After using the restroom or helping someone use the restroom
- After sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
- After touching garbage
- After touching shared or frequently used tables, keypads, pumps, handles or devices at public places
How to wash your hands
- Take 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. The warm water 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.
The best way to prevent germs is by washing hands but using hand sanitizer can help as well if soap and water are not readily available. Using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is recommended.