Proper Handwashing To Prevent Illness

Let’s face it, washing your hands is a routine and necessary task to remain healthy. Though you may have a handwashing routine down pat, did you know there is a method to wash your hands effectively to greatly reduce your risk of getting sick?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends to take these simple steps to make handwashing quick, easy, and effective to stay healthy:

  1. Wet your hands with running water, and add soap.
    Why? Because hands could become recontaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used. Most recommendations say to use warm water (including ours), but that is mostly for comfort. You can get your hands just as clean with cold water.
  2. Rub your hands together, making a soapy lather. Wash the front and back of hands, between your fingers and under nails for at least 20 seconds or two rounds of the song “Happy Birthday.”
    Why? The optimal length of time for handwashing is also likely to depend on many factors, including the type and amount of soil on the hands and the setting of the person washing hands.  For example, surgeons are likely to come into contact with disease-causing germs and risk spreading serious infections to vulnerable patients, so they may need to wash hands longer than a woman before she prepares her own lunch at home. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that washing hands for about 15-30 seconds removes more germs from hands than washing for shorter periods
  3. Rinse your hands well under warm, running water.
    Why? Soap and friction help lift dirt, grease, and microbes—including disease-causing germs—from the skin so they can then be rinsed off of hands. Rinsing the soap away also minimizes skin irritation.
  4. Dry hands thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer.
    Why? Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands; therefore, hands should be dried after washing.

In addition, there are many health benefits of washing your hands often. Here’s the science behind it:

  • 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, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
  • Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.

For more information about healthy handwashing to prevent illness, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/

Expert Tip: Looking to take your sanitation to the next level? Touch-less sanitation can prevent spread of germs on surfaces.

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