Handwashing 101

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville

black and white photo of hands with soapy water

It may sound simple but handwashing is our first defense against getting sick. Wash your hands often to prevent spreading germs. There are times that we should wash our hands, although we may feel that it isn’t necessary. Here is a list of some of those critical times that hand washing should occur:

  • Before, during, and after food preparation
  • Before eating
  • After petting your pet
  • Using the bathroom
  • Treating a cut or open wound
  • Caring for someone sick with a contagious virus or bacteria
  • Blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing
  • Touching garbage

Warm soapy water is the best method to wash your hands, if this not available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol works fine. Look at the product label to determine the alcohol content. I typically use hand sanitizer when I’m traveling, especially after pumping gas or handling cash. Keep in mind that hand sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs. Also, they may not be as effective if your hands are greasy or super dirty. To wash hands properly, follow these steps:

  • Wet your hands with running water (warm or cold)
  • Lather well with soap
  • Scrub for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse well with running water
  • Dry with a clean towel or air dry

Written By

Cheri Bennett, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionCheri BennettNutrition Educator, Extension Program Assistant Call Cheri E-mail Cheri N.C. Cooperative Extension, Union County Center
Posted on Feb 25, 2020
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