Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs. Every time you touch a contaminated surface, you can transfer germs to and from your hands — but proper and thorough hand washing removes most germs from your hands.
When to Wash
Before, during or after preparing food.
Immediately after handling raw foods, such as poultry.
Before picking up a baby
Before dressing a wound, giving medicine, or inserting contact lenses.
After visiting the toilet or changing a diaper.
After contact with blood or body fluids (like vomit, nasal secretions, saliva).
After touching animals or their toys, leashes or waste.
After touching a contaminated area (e.g., trash can, cleaning cloth, drain, soil).
More often when someone in your home is sick
Whenever hands look dirty.
How to Wash
Wet your hands and apply liquid, bar, or powder soap.
Rub hands together vigorously to make a lather, and scrub all surfaces, including under and around the nails.
Continue for 20 seconds. It takes that long for the soap and scrubbing action to dislodge and remove stubborn germs. (Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" all the way through — twice.)
Rinse hands well under running water.
Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer.
If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.
When Soap and Water Aren't Available
You can still keep your hands clean even if water isn't available. Hand sanitizers are designed to kill germs on hands that are not visibly dirty, without the need for water or towels.
Hand Sanitizing Gel:
Apply gel per label directions.
Rub hands together briskly, including the front and back, between fingers, around and under nails until hands are dry.
Wipe all areas of hands until they are visibly clean.
Use one or more wipes, and dispose of them in an appropriate trash container.