A Simple Way to Avoid Getting Sick, Yet Often Overlooked

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Germs lurk everywhere! Handwashing is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. In fact, handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea and almost 1 out of 6 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia. Are you handwashing properly?  Find out. 

5 Simple Steps to Clean Hands

  1. Wet your hands with warm running water.
  2. Add soap, then rub your hands together, making a soapy lather. Wash the front and back of your hands, we well as between your fingers and under nails. 
  3. Rinse your hands well under warm running water.
  4. Dry hands thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer.
  5. Turn off the water with a clean paper towel and dispose in a proper receptacle

How long should I wash?


The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds or two rounds of the song “Happy Birthday”. 

Type of Soap to Use

Any type of soap may be used. However, bar soap should be kept in a self-training holder that is cleaned thoroughly before new bars are put out. To prevent chapping, use a mild soap with warm water, pat rather than rub hands dry and apply lotion liberally and frequently.

If Soap and Water are Not Available.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. 

How do you use hand sanitizers?

  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

When should you wash your 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 child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

Resource: CDC