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December 1-7, 2019 is National Handwashing Awareness Week

Five Simple Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent germs and infection from spreading from one person to another and throughout entire communities—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals. Through regular practice of simple hand washing, remarkable improvements in health, sanitation, and disease control can be achieved. Hand washing doesn’t take much time or effort, but it offers great rewards in terms of preventing illness.

Follow these five steps every time you wash your hands.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the alphabet song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you’re encouraged to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Hand Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations, however:

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.
  • Hand sanitizers can cause hands to dry out and crack more easily, especially in the winter

Source: cdc.gov