Proper Hand Washing: A Visual How-To Guide

If there’s one recurring message that seems to be getting through to everyone during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s this: wash your hands – properly and frequently.

It seems commonsensical enough. Most of us learned as toddlers how important it is to wash hands before eating or after going to the bathroom, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that hand washing is perhaps the easiest way to prevent the spread of germs.

But now more than ever, the technique and frequency of proper hand washing are critically important for staying healthy – and not just from coronavirus. So just what is the right way to wash your hands?

Follow the steps below to ensure that your hands remain as germ-free as they can be.

How to Wash Your Hands

 

Step 1

Wet your hands with water and apply enough soap to cover your entire hand. Usually one or two pumps of liquid of foaming soap will do the trick.

 

Step 2

Rub your hands palm-to-palm, alternating between hands a couple of times.

 

Step 3

With your left palm facing down, place your right hand on top of your left and interlock your finger. Scrub vigorously to clean the space between your fingers. Switch hands and repeat.

 

Step 4

Place your palms against one another and interlock your fingers. Move your wrists from side to side to clean the inside of the palms.

 

Step 5

As if you’re almost making a fist, interlock your fingertips and brush them against one another in a side to side motion. Press your hands together somewhat tightly so that soap is scrubbing everywhere that your hands are touching one another.

 

Step 6

With your right hand, grab your left thumb and rotate your hand around it. Switch hands and repeat.

 

Step 7

Take the tips of your fingers and press them into your opposite palm, rotating them around the palm in a circular motion. Switch hands and repeat.

 

Step 8

Rinse the soap from your hands, grab a towel or paper towel and then use it to turn the faucet off.

 

How Long to Wash Your Hands

The entire process should take about 20 seconds – enough time to sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice. And while at first this routine and length of time may seem a little longer than what you’re accustomed to, remember that you could be leaving yourself (and others) at risk if you don’t adequately kill germs and bacteria, some of which are not easily washed away.

 

Frequency

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s no magic number for how many times per day you should be washing your hands. Certainly in the current environment, more is better.

You should definitely wash hands after being in any public environment when your hands come into contact with anything that someone else has touched. Remember, the current science indicates that the coronavirus can live on hard surfaces for as long as three days. So better to be safe than sorry.

Additionally, it’s recommended that you wash your hands thoroughly in any of the following circumstances:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • 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 toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • 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 garbage

Your Health is in Your Hands

Staying safe during the coronavirus outbreak is going to require some extra diligence and new routines. Washing your hands the right way might just be the easiest – and one of the most effective – methods you have of staying healthy.

Sources: Handwashing information from the CDC
Hand Hygiene from John Hopkins

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