Many of us go to great lengths to stay healthy and avoid illness and infections. However, many people neglect the easiest way to limit the transfer of bacteria and viruses and it’s practically free—proper hand washing.
As you touch door handles, shake hands, and touch grocery carts, germs come in contact with your hands. These germs are easily spread to your eyes, nose, mouth, and to other people.
When should you wash your hands? Think before and after.
- Before preparing or eating food, putting contact lenses in or out, or putting your fingers in your mouth or eyes
- After using the restroom, blowing your nose, shaking hands, coughing or sneezing into your hands, handling trash, or touching hand rails and other items in a public place
How should you wash your hands? Proper hand-washing involves several steps:
- Wet your hands before applying soap.
- Apply soap and lather well. Regular soap is fine. Antibacterial soap isn’t any more effective than regular soap and the FDA finds that use of these products leads to drug-resistant bacteria.
- Rub hands together for 20 seconds. Here’s a tip: Sing Happy Birthday in your head two times!
- Use a towel or your elbow to turn off the faucet. Don’t run the risk of contaminating your clean hands. Also, avoid using your clean hands to open the door of a public bathroom when you exit.
If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It should contain 60% alcohol. It’s a good idea to keep a small bottle in your car, desk, and purse.
Make regular and proper hand washing a habit. It’s been said that it can take 30 days to form a new habit, so be intentional about hand washing until it becomes second nature. Follow these healthy practices, not just during cold and flu season, but all year long.