Good hand hygiene is now more important than ever. Soap, water and less than half a minute of your time go a long way to preventing the spread of illness.
First, how should you wash your hands?
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to 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.
When should you wash your hands?
With COVID-19, experts are recommending even more vigilance with hand washing, including after you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens, and so on. You should also wash your hands:
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
Why are our hands such “hot spots” for germs and the spread of disease?
- People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth and make us sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, tabletops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
- Removing germs through handwashing helps prevent respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Finally, make it a point to wash your hands several times a day!
*This article was originally published April 3rd, 2020 as The Importance of Washing Your Hands.