The Right (and Wrong) Way to Wash Your Hands

hand washing

We typically think of hand washing as a no-brainer, but now that the flu season is upon us it is imperative that we do whatever it takes to keep our families healthy! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe hand washing as a "do-it-yourself vaccine," so knowing the do's and don'ts of this simple task could go a long way in warding off any germs this holiday season. Just 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous scrubbing could stand between you and the flu, so take a couple minutes to review these helpful tips!

When to wash your hands: For the best possible results, practice washing your hands for the following actions: (via New Jersey Department of Health)

  • When they look dirty
  • Before preparing or eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating any wound
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or assisting anyone who has gone to the bathroom
  • After handling garbage
  • After touching any animal or animal waste
  • After touching any surface or object that is frequently touched by other people
5 steps washing

>> Interested in learning more about flu prevention? Click here to read about 8 natural ways to fight off the flu!

How to wash your hands: It is just as important to know how to wash your hands as it is to know when to wash. There are 5 basic steps that you should follow: (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

  1. Wet your hands with clean water, preferably warm, and apply soap.
  2. Lather soap onto your hands by thoroughly scouring the backs, palms, fingers, and fingernails.
  3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. If you need a timer, just try humming the chorus to your favorite song!
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, warm water.
  5. Dry your hands by using a clean towel or by air drying. Use your towel to turn off the faucet.

Keep in mind that antibacterial soap is not actually more effective than regular soap. In fact, evidence suggests that overuse of antibacterial soap may lead to the production of resistant bacteria. On the plus side, alcohol wipes or alcohol-based sanitizers are a-okay! Keep you and your family safe and healthy this winter!

Sources: Riverside Health System, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Jersey Department of Health, Mayo Clinic: Adult Health