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Why should I wash my hands?

Germs on your hands can:

  • Cause illness if you consume food or drink touched with contaminated hands
  • Cause illness if you touch your mouth, eyes, nose, or ears with contaminated hands
  • Spread onto other surfaces
  • Spread through contact with another person

When should I wash my hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Frequently when caring for someone sick
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • After using the restroom
  • After changing diapers or helping a child in the restroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching animal waste
  • After touching garbage
  • When you get home from the store, work, or any other public place

Steps to Proper Handwashing

  1. Wet your hands with warm, clean water.
  2. Apply soap. Lather your hands, being sure to clean between your fingers, under your fingernails, and on the back of your hands.  You should lather your hands for about 20 seconds.
  3. Rinse your hands well under clean, warm water.
  4. Dry your hands using a clean towel or hand dryer.

What should I do if I do not have running water?

If you do not have running water, the next best step is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol and should not be used as a first alternative. Sanitizer does not remove the same amount of germs as handwashing and will not remove harmful chemicals.

Fore more information on handwashing, visit http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html.