Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to protect your health.

What is the Right Way to Wash Your Hands?
  • Wet your hands with clean, running water. It can be warm or cold. Apply soap, enough to lather. Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce germs on them.
  • Rub your hands together to form a lather; scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, under your nails as well as the palms of your hands.
  • Rub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have a timer, sing the “happy birthday to you” song twice from beginning to end.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.
When Should You Wash Your Hands?
  • Before, during and after preparing food.
  • Before eating food.
  • Before and after touching someone who is sick.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.
  • After using the toilet.
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • After touching an animal or animal waste.
  • After touching garbage.
What if you don't have soap and/or clean, running water?

If you don’t have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

In some instances, sanitizers can reduce the number of germs on your hands but do not eliminate all types of germs. Hand sanitizers are not effective on hands that are very dirty.

Last Reviewed: 5/25/2016