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Guide to Proper Handwashing

hands lathered in soap over a sinkWashing your hands is one of the top ways of reducing the spread of infection. This is a practice that has been promoted for a long time, but with COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases on the rise in the US and around the world; people are encouraged more than ever to do it correctly. With tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we’re spreading the word on proper hand-washing techniques.

When to Wash
The appropriate time to wash your hands may seem obvious to some, but life’s distractions and simple human-habits can often create missteps in our hand-washing routines. The CDC recommends that people wash their hands:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a person who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

How to Wash
Everyone knows how to wash their hands, right? Wrong! Before you skip this section, take a quick look and test yourself on how well you know how:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to 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 “Happy Birthday” song or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star from beginning to end twice (or pick a favorite song of your choice!).
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel, or air dry them. It’s also a good idea to use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door.

When to Use Hand Sanitizer
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Make sure to check the label, it may require more or less than you think. Here’s how to use it:

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount, it may not be what you think).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. As with washing with soap and water, this should take around 20 seconds. Washing our hands protects not only ourselves, but also others. It only takes about 30 seconds to kill a bunch of germs. That’s hand-washing power!

If you’d like more information on proper hand-washing and other ways to fight COVID-19, visit

We’re in this together!


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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