Wash Your Hands

Hand hygiene involves regular hand washing to clean away germs that have been picked up from other people, contaminated surfaces, animals or animal waste. The most important thing anyone can do to keep from getting sick is to regularly wash your hands!

What happens if you do not wash your hands? Germs can be picked up from many sources and if you have unclean hands, you can infect yourself when you touch your eyes, nose and mouth. One of the most common ways people catch colds is by rubbing their nose or eyes after their hands have come in contact with the cold virus. Germs are spread to others or onto surfaces that other people touch.

In addition to colds and flu, other diseases like hepatitis A, norovirus and meningitis can be prevented if people make a habit of washing their hands better and more often.

What is the correct way to wash your hands?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following steps for handwashing: 

  • Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
  • Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces, including under the fingernails.
  • Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice through.
  • Rinse hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a disposable paper towel or a hand dryer.
  • Use your disposable paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door, if possible.
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:

  • Apply product to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub hands together.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry.
When should you wash your hands?

You should wash your hands often! It is especially important to wash your hands:

  • After you use the bathroom
  • Before, during and after you prepare food
  • Before you eat
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • More frequently when someone in your home is sick