Clean Hands for Good Health

Global Hand Washing Day is Sunday, October 15th this year. During the Covid pandemic, we were all fastidious about washing our hands or using sanitizers to the point our hands may have been raw. With flu season upon us, it is important to remember that hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. The good news is, washing hands helps to prevent the spread of germs that can cause respiratory and other infections. The bad news is that germs are everywhere. Germs can spread from person to person. They can spread when preparing food or eating with unwashed hands. Germs can be lurking on surfaces and or shared when touching common objects. Keep yourself and your loved ones healthy. Practice hand washing frequently, especially during key times when spreading germs is more likely.

Always wash:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the bathroom
  • After changing diapers 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
  • After handling pet food or pet treat
  • After touching garbage

5 simple steps for proper handwashing:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    • Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. While germs may be present on all surfaces of the hand, they are often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. No timer necessary. Simply hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
    • Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands; therefore, hands should be dried after washing.

If soap and water are not available for hand washing, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol as the next best option.

  • While sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations, they do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective as handwashing when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. And sanitizers may not remove harmful chemicals from hands, such as pesticides and heavy metals.
  • Hand sanitizers should be kept out of reach of young children and use of hand sanitizers should always be supervised. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. 

When using hand sanitizer:

  1. Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  2. Rub your hands together.
  3. Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

The guidance for effective hand washing and use of hand sanitizer was developed by the CDC based on data from a number of studies. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. For more information, visit:

Happy Hand Washing Everyone! Stay safe and healthy.

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