Hygiene

When and How to Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from illness. Learn when and how to wash your hands to stay healthy.

Wash your hands often to stay healthy You can wash your hands frequently to help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy, especially during these critical periods when you are likely to get infected and spread the bacteria:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the bathroom After changing diapers or cleaning a child who has used the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching the trash wash your hands under the tap

Washing your hands is easy and is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can prevent germs from spreading from person to person and throughout an entire community, from your home and workplace to daycare centers and hospitals.

Follow these five steps to wash your hands the right way.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them with the soap. Soap the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Do you need a timer? Hum the song "Happy Birthday" from start to finish twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry.