In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, handwashing is at an all-time high, and for good reasons, too. Not only does regular handwashing remove surface dirt, oil, and loose skin from your hands, it also reduces the bacterial count by between 24 and 77 percent. But if you're not washing your hands the right way, it's basically pointless.
So how do you actually wash your hands correctly?
While washing your hands isn't rocket science, if you're like most people, you're probably not washing your hands correctly. Here's the proper way to wash your hands, according to the CDC:
- Step one: Wet your hands with clean, running water. The temperature can be either warm or cold. Turn off the tap and apply soap.
- Step two: Rub your hands together with soap so that a lather forms. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Step three: Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, which is the approximate length of time that it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" from beginning to end twice.
- Step four: Using clean, running water, rinse your hands thoroughly.
- Step five: Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.
You should use enough soap to achieve a decent lather. Only use hand sanitizer when you can't use soap. It should contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
When should you wash your hands?
In a nutshell, you should wash your hands as often as possible. The CDC recommends you wash your hands in these situations:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with diarrhea and vomiting
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the bathroom
- After touching garbage
- After changing diapers
- After cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal
- After touching animal waste
- After handling pet treats or pet food
It's also important to wash your hands before touching your face. Why? Because putting your unwashed hands on your face, especially in your nose, mouth, and eyes, can invite germs into your body, which can lead to illness.
Handwashing is one of the best and easiest ways to tackle germs and avoid getting sick. It's also one of the best ways to prevent illnesses like coronavirus from spreading. Now, go wash your hands!