What Is Proper Hand Washing?

We learn as children that you’re supposed to wash your hands every time you go to the bathroom, but how often do you skip hand washing? If you do wash your hands every time, do you wash your hands well? A 5-second rinse with cold water followed by a pat dry on your blue jeans doesn’t cut it.

Proper hand washing is a simple and effective way to help prevent the spread of germs and infections. But while hand washing is quick and easy people don’t always wash their hands as well, or as often, as they should. Here’s a little information on proper hand washing and why it’s so important to wash your hands.

Why is it important to wash your hands?

Yes, dirt beneath your fingernails and a visible filth on your hands is off-putting, but that’s not why you wash your hands. Proper hand washing is important because it helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria. This keeps you, your family, and your community healthy and safe.

Washing your hands is an easy way to help prevent illness in just under 30 seconds. Click To Tweet

When should you wash your hands?

You should wash your hands thoroughly, and wash them often. There’s never a bad time to wash your hands, but make sure to properly wash your hands in these instances:

  • after using the toilet
  • after touching animals
  • after touching human or animal waste
  • after handling trash
  • after blowing your nose
  • before preparing or handling food
  • before eating
  • before and after caring for someone who is sick or injured

It’s also important to wash your hands often during cold and flu season, if you’re traveling, or if you’re around large groups of people.

How to wash your hands properly

Proper hand washing is simple.

  1. Use clean water
  2. Apply soap
  3. Lather and scrub for at least 20 seconds
  4. Rinse with clean water
  5. Dry with a clean hand towel or electric dryer

Wash between your fingers, scrub beneath your fingernails, and wash your palms and wrists as well.

Here’s a video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to properly wash your hands.