Why and When to Wash Your Hands
Handwashing is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy and prevent the spread of germs. All you need is soap and clean running water. By learning how to wash your hands properly, you can protect yourself and your family from the spread of respiratory infections amongst other infections. Germs that cause these infections spread from person to person or surfaces you touch. Proper handwashing can help prevent the spread of these germs.1
So now you know why you should wash your hands, but when should you wash them? While it may seem like common knowledge, let's clarify all the situations in which you should wash your hands. Make sure to wash your hands: before, during and after preparing or eating food, when caring for someone who is sick, treating a wound, using the toilet, changing diapers, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, touching an animal or animal feed or animal waste, touching pet treats, and after touching garbage.1
During times when respiratory illnesses are prevalent, you should take extra hand washing precautions. Wash your hands after you've been in public places and touched objects or surfaces like gas pumps, grocery counters, tables, and shopping carts. Remember to wash your hands before you touch your eyes, mouth, or nose because germs enter the body that way and make you sick.1
Step by Step Process of How to Wash Your Hands
Learning how to wash your hands correctly is a simple way to help prevent the spread of germs in your community. Washing with soap and water should be your primary handwashing method, but if soap and water aren't available immediately, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.1
Follow these 5 steps to learn how to wash your hands properly, as directed by the CDC:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Rub your hands together with the soap. With the suds, lather the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands like this for at least 20 seconds. You can set a timer or sing the happy birthday song twice from start to finish.
- Rinse your hands until all soap residue is gone under clean water.
- Dry your hands completely using a clean towel or air dry them until no dampness remains.1
Now that you know how to wash your hands properly, you're equipped with the most basic way to help protect yourself and others from illnesses passed by germs. To keep learning, explore Theraflu resources on topics like do hand sanitizers really help kill germs and how to help avoid the cold and flu.
1. When and How to Wash Your Hands. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html. Accessed 4.10.2020.