Hygiene begins with clean hands, and handwashing tends to be a lesson learned early in life. However, it can be easy to forget the role handwashing plays in personal health on a day-to-day basis. The COVID-19 pandemic did much to remind individuals just how important and effective handwashing can be.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that washing hands is a defense against the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections between people, including the virus responsible for COVID-19. Germs are everywhere and can be transmitted easily from surface to surface – and then to the body – when individuals touch their noses, eyes, mouths, and items. Failure to wash hands while sick also may transfer viruses or bacteria from your person to another when shaking hands or using common objects.
The CDC states that many people may not be washing their hands correctly. A refresher course in handwashing can go a long way toward keeping people as healthy as possible.
Proper handwashing techniques
Wet hands with water. The temperature is not important, but warm water does make handwashing more comfortable.
Use soap and lather hands by rubbing them together. Lather the backs of the hands and between the fingers and under nails.
Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. There’s no need to set a timer. Simply hum the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’ from beginning to end twice and that will suffice.
Hands can then be rinsed well under clean, running water.
Use a clean towel or air dry hands after washing them.
When and where to wash hands
Hands should be washed regularly to stay healthy. It’s advisable to do so before, during and after preparing foods. Wash hands after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet, or after using the restroom yourself. Handwashing is advised after touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste. Give hands a wash after touching or taking out the garbage.
To prevent COVID-19 and other illnesses from spreading, always wash hands after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose. Keep hands clean after touching items in public places, such as door handles. When caring for someone who is ill, remember to wash hands frequently.