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Why You Should Wash Your Hands

why you should wash your hands

Throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands by touching surfaces, objects, and people.  Touching your eyes or mouth without washing your hands can lead to a potential virus.  While it is impossible to keep your hands germ-free, frequent hand-washing is a preventative measure to transferring harmful bacteria and viruses.

Why does hand washing work?

Many germs live for hours on surfaces such as tables, keyboards, and doorknobs.  Being in public spaces invites a host of germs that can get you sick.  Washing your hands after encounters where you’ve shaken someone’s hand, used public transportation, or visited a loved one who is sick can prevent you from picking up germs as well as prevent you from spreading your own.

How should I be washing my hands?

Washing your hands simply requires plain soap and running water.  You should be rubbing your hands for about 20 seconds, covering the entire surface of your hands including your wrists, fingers, and fingernails.  Following washing your hands, dry your hands with a clean paper towel or an air dryer.

If you’re using a public restroom, you should use a clean paper towel to turn the knob.

How often should I be washing my hands?

You should be washing your hands almost 10 times a day.  Yes, it is a lot, but think of how many times you use the bathroom and how many times you eat throughout the day.  You should be washing your hands after every bathroom use, before food preparation, and before and after meals.

Other times you should be washing your hands include:

  • Blowing your nose
  • Coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Shaking hands with others
  • Handling garbage or other contaminated household items
  • Handling contact lenses
  • Diaper changing
  • Caring for or visiting a sick person
  • Treating infected wounds
  • After touching an animal

Does hand sanitizer work?

When you’re not within arm’s reach of a sink, an alcohol-based sanitizer is a great alternative.  The hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol.

For use, rub the entire surface of your hands until your hands are dry.  While hand sanitizer is good to use, it does not beat hand washing.  When you get the chance, you should follow up with a thorough hand scrub to remove any buildup from the hand sanitizer.

What else can I do to prevent the spread of germs?

Hand washing is the main thing you can do to prevent the spread of germs.  Avoid touching contaminated surfaces and objects and try your best not to touch your face.  Other things you can do is making sure you use sanitary wipes and clean surfaces in your home, staying away from sick or infected people, and making sure you’re vaccinated for common illness such as the flu.