How To Wash Your Hands

Why is hand washing important?

Your hands carry germs even though they look clean. Germs can spread when you touch someone, or when you touch a surface or object with germs on it. Wash your hands often to help prevent you from getting sick or spreading germs to others.

What is the correct way to wash my hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water. 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 20 seconds. This is about the amount of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song 2 times.

  • Rinse your hands well under the running water.

  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air dry.

  • Use a 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 kill germs on your hands. Rub the gel all over your hands until it dries.

When should I wash my hands?

  • Before you prepare, cook, and eat food

  • After you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose

  • After you go to the bathroom, help a child go to the bathroom, or change a diaper

  • After you touch an animal or clean up animal waste

  • Before and after you clean or care for a cut or other wound

  • Before and after you touch someone who is sick

  • After you touch garbage

What other tips do I need to know?

  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue. Then throw the tissue away. Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm if you do not have a tissue.

  • Teach children how to cough and sneeze properly to prevent the spread of germs.

  • Teach children how to wash their hands correctly. Put hand soap within easy reach of the sink.

  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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