Hand-Washing

Hand-Washing

Overview

Hand-washing is more than just running water over your hands. Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of infections. It helps prevent diseases, such as colds, flu, and food poisoning. It's easy, it doesn't cost much, and it works.

Wash your hands:

  • Often, especially during cold and flu season. This can reduce your risk of catching or spreading a cold or the flu.
  • Before, during, and after you prepare food. This reduces your risk of catching or spreading bacteria that cause food poisoning. Be especially careful to wash before and after you prepare poultry, raw eggs, meat, or seafood.
  • Before and after you care for someone who is sick. It's also important to wash your hands before and after you treat a cut or wound.
  • Before you eat.

Wash your hands after you:

  • Go to the bathroom or change diapers. This reduces your risk of catching or spreading diseases such as salmonella or hepatitis A.
  • Cough, sneeze, or blow your nose.
  • Handle or prepare foods, especially after you touch raw meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, or eggs.
  • Touch an animal, animal waste, pet food, or pet treats.
  • Handle garbage, use the phone, or shake hands.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following steps for hand-washing:

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). Apply soap.

slide 1 of 5
    
slide 1 of 5, Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). Apply soap.,

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.

slide 2 of 5
    
slide 2 of 5, Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.,

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

slide 3 of 5
    
slide 3 of 5, Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. ,

Scrub the backs of hands, between fingers, palms, and under nails.

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

slide 4 of 5
    
slide 4 of 5, Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.,

Protect your hand with a paper towel when you turn off the faucet. Dry your hands using a clean towel, or air-dry them.

slide 5 of 5
    
slide 5 of 5, Protect your hand with a paper towel when you turn off the faucet. Dry your hands using a clean towel, or air-dry them.,

If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer or alcohol-based hand wipe that contains at least 60% ethyl alcohol or isopropanol. Carry one or both with you when you travel, and keep them in your car or purse. These products can help reduce the number of germs on your hands. But they don't get rid of all types of germs.

If you use sanitizer, rub your hands and fingers until they are dry. You don't need to use water. The alcohol quickly kills many types of germs on your hands.

Credits

Current as of: June 18, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.