Handwashing 101

Keeping your hands clean is the easiest and most efficient way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs / diseases to others. As kids, we were always reminded by our parents or teachers to wash our hands as frequently as possible—especially before eating and after using the restroom. As adults, however, some of us may not be as diligent as we used to be in washing our hands.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

All throughout the day, our hands come in contact with various things that may be covered with germs and viruses. Without thinking, we touch our eyes, nose, and mouth with our hands, allowing germs to enter our body.

It may be impossible to wash our hands every time we touch something, but it is important to wash them in these specific times:

  • Before, during, and after cooking or preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After using the toilet
  • After taking out the garbage
  • After changing diapers
  • After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
  • Before and after taking care of a sick person
  • After treating cuts or wounds
  • After touching an animal including animal food and waste

In certain instances when soap and water are unavailable, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands.

The Proper Way of Washing Your Hands

Placing your hands under running water does not really equate to washing away all the germs and viruses you have picked up. But since you already committed yourself to washing your hands by turning on that faucet, you might as well do it properly.

Below is the proper way to wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands with warm, running water
  • Put some soap on your hands
  • Rub your hands together for at least 15 to 20 seconds, sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to help you time it properly
  • Cover all surface areas, including in between your fingers and under your fingernails
  • Rinse thoroughly with running water
  • Dry with a clean towel or paper towel
  • Use paper towel to turn off the faucet

Washing your hands may save you big time on hospital bills or medications. By giving just 15 to 20 seconds of your time to handwashing, you have already prevented a number of possible diseases, including cold and flu, gastroenteritis, hepatitis A, infections, and more.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.