Hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting sick. It also reduces the spread of germs to your coworkers, customers, family, and friends. Unfortunately, many of us get into poor hand hygiene habits, using only a rushed rinse of water or a quick swipe with the soap.
Effective hand washing may take a tiny bit of extra time (about 30 seconds total), but it will protect your health in the long run. Do yourself a favor and form a solid hand washing habit with proper timing and techniques.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water. Turn off the tap and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. (Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.)
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Q: How often should you wash your hands?
A: Any time you may be exposed to germs. As a rule of thumb, this is whenever you come into contact with food, animals, waste, sick people, or wounds. You should always wash your hands before eating and after using the restroom. Additionally, wash them after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If You Can't Wash...
When you can’t use soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However, sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs and they are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
When using a hand sanitizer, make sure to rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry, around 20 seconds.
The Clean Up
Protect yourself and others from germs by washing your hands properly every time you come into contact with food, waste, or germs. If you can't wash your hands, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Information provided by the CDC.