WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Hand hygiene means you wash your hands correctly to prevent the spread of germs.
Why hand hygiene is important:
Even though your hands look clean, they may still carry germs. If you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after you get germs on your hands, you may get sick. Hand hygiene helps get rid of germs and prevents illness. Hand hygiene can also prevent you from spreading germs to other people. Germs can spread when you touch someone, or when you touch a surface or object with germs on it.
How to wash your hands correctly:
- Wet your hands with warm water and apply soap. Rub the soap over the front and back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. Rub your hands together for about 15 to 20 seconds. This is about the amount of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song.
- Rinse your hands well under warm running water. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use the paper towel to turn the faucet off. If you share a bathroom with other people, use the paper towel to open the door when you leave.
- Hand sanitizer gels and wipes can be used to clean your hands if no water is available. The alcohol in the sanitizer helps to kill germs on your hands. Rub the gel all over your hands until it dries.
When to wash your hands:
- Before you prepare, cook, and eat food
- Before and after you clean or care for a cut or other wound
- Before and after you touch another person
- After you go to the bathroom, help a child go to the bathroom, or change a diaper
- After you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose
- After you touch an animal or clean up animal waste
- After you touch garbage
Other ways to help with hand hygiene:
- Do not cough or sneeze into your hand. Use a tissue when you sneeze. Then throw the tissue away. Cough into the bend of your arm. Teach children not to cough or sneeze into their hands.
- Teach children how to wash their hands correctly. Put hand soap within easy reach of the sink.
- Place bar soap in a dish that lets the water drain out. Clean the dish well before you add a new bar of soap.
- Clean surfaces regularly. Use a single-use sponge or cloth to clean surfaces. If you use a cloth more than once, wash and replace it before you clean again.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.