Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading.
Handwashing Requires Five Simple Steps
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Key Times to Wash Hands
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because that’s how germs enter our bodies
- After you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps or shopping carts
- Before, during, and after preparing food and always before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick or treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet, changing a diaper or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste or handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water
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 can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.
How to use hand sanitizer:
- Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.