Handwashing 101

What is one of the most important habits you can do to help keep you and others from getting sick?

Handwashing 101

Wash your hands!

Like everything, there is a right way to clean your hands. Using soap and water is best, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But if clean water and soap are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound


What is the right way to wash your hands?

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold - don't use overly hot water - you could burn yourself!). Apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together so the soap lathers. Scrub them well by rubbing your hands together: be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Continue rubbing your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Don't know how long 20 seconds is? Sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself - twice!
  4. Rinse your hands completely under running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or let them air dry.


What if you don’t have soap and clean, running water?

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them, according to the CDC. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

But, remember: Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

How do you use hand sanitizers?

  1. Apply about a quarter-sized drop of the sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
  2. Rub your hands together.
  3. Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands, nails, and fingers until your hands are dry.