According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.  Washing your hands — this simple activity is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another, which is something that benefits everyone.

When Should We Wash Our Hands?

To stop the spread of germs in your family and in general, make regular hand washing a non-negotiable rule for everyone. Be sure to wash your hands always:

  • after using the bathroom
  • before eating and cooking
  • after cleaning the house
  • after touching animals, including family pets
  • after taking care of anyone who is ill
  • after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • after being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.)
  • after being in frequently trafficked public spaces, i.e. airports, playgrounds and care facilities
  • after touching garbage

What’s the Best Way to Wash Hands?

It’s especially important to instill this into your children at a young age. If you wash your hands together, children will learn how important it is and develop it into a healthy habit. Here’s the best way to scrub germs away:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold).
  2. Use soap and lather up for about 20 seconds. A helpful hint for children: have them sing “Happy Birthday” while washing.
  3. Make sure to scrub in between your fingers, on the backs of hands, and under the nails where germs like to hang out.
  4. Rinse and dry well with a clean towel.

What should you do if you don’t have soap and water?

If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol (check the label). Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.