Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

Chances are you have been washing your own hands for quite a while. All it takes is a little soap and some water, right? Actually, there is a bit more to hand washing. Find out how to wash your hands correctly and why it matters so much.

Here's Why Washing Your Hands Is Important  ^

The single most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick and to stop the spread of disease-causing germs is to wash your hands often. By frequently washing your hands, you wash away germs that you may have picked up from other people or from contaminated surfaces. One of the most common ways people catch colds and the flu is by rubbing their noses or eyes after their hands have been contaminated with the cold or flu virus. More frequent hand washing may be able to reduce the spread of the these viruses. Some studies show that when children are taught to carefully wash their hands school absenteeism is reduced, even more so when alcohol-based hand rubs are combined with hand washing.

You cannot see germs with the naked eye, so wash your hands often. Especially important times include:

Here's How  ^

To properly wash your hands, follow these simple steps:

Note: When soap is not readily available, alcohol-based hand rubs offer a quick and easy alternative. No water is needed. Just squirt some into the palm of your hand and rub your hands all over until they are dry. They are not the best option, however, when your hand are visibly dirty.

RESOURCES:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

United States Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.hhs.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian National Occupation Health and Safety Resource
http://www.ccohs.ca/

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php

REFERENCES:

Guinan M, McGuckin M, Ali Y. The effect of a comprehensive handwashing program on absenteeism in elementary schools.Am J Infect Control. 2002 Jun;30(4):217-20.

Keeping your hands clean on a cruise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/pub/Handwashing/HandwashingTips.htm. Last updated July 20, 2010. Accessed December 15, 2010.

Wash your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/. Last updated December 15, 2010. Accessed December 15, 2010.

The SNAP Toolkit. School Network for Absenteeism Prevention website. available at: http://www.itsasnap.org/index.asp.