Learn more about when and how to wash your hands, the importance of using soap and water, and what you can do if soap and clean, running water are not available. Whether you are at home, at work, traveling, or already sick, find out how good hand hygiene can protect you, your family, and others. In this article, we guide you through the hows and whys of handwashing, using official information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Whether we like it or not, we live in a germ-filled world. Germs are the tiny bacteria, viruses, fungi, or protozoa that can sometimes make us sick. They do this when they find an entry point into our bodies, such as the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. Germs can be spread by air but are also found on surfaces we often touch like doorknobs, keyboards, and handrails. One of the easiest ways germs get into your system is when you touch something with germs on it and then touch your face.
It's difficult to overstate the importance of handwashing. When you wash your hands, you dramatically reduce the amount of germs on your hands, and, therefore, your risk of getting sick. Communities that practice regular handwashing see the rate of people that get sick with diarrhea fall by 23-40%1 , and with colds and other respiratory illnesses by 16-21%2.
The benefits of handwashing go beyond just protecting yourself from sicknesses. When you wash your hands regularly, you'll also reduce the chance that you'll infect someone else. This is especially important when you're sick yourself, or around people with weakened immune systems like infants or the elderly.
Wash your hands regularly to prevent the flu and other illnesses. This means doing so:
Let's go over the five handwashing steps: Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. Follow these easy steps and make sure to teach children and family members this effective handwashing technique too.
Washing your hands with soap and running water is the most effective way of reducing the amount of germs on your hands and is an important flu prevention tactic3 (in addition to getting a flu shot).
Sometimes, however, we don’t have soap or running water nearby, like when we’re on the bus or playing in the park, for example. In these situations, it’s still important to practice good hygiene. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol instead.
Here's how to use hand sanitizer correctly:
1, 2 For more information visit: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html
3 For more information visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm