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Are you washing your hands correctly? Here are the do's and don'ts

Are you washing your hands correctly? Here are the do's and don'ts

By Ashley Salvaggio, MD, Family Medicine Physician
Posted: January 30, 2020

Washing your hands is simple and fairly quick. It is also one of the easiest ways to stay healthy and prevent germs from spreading.

The question is — are you doing it the correct way?

These simple do’s and don’ts can help you make sure your hands are clean.

5 Handwashing Do’s

DO wash your hands after using the restroom, before eating, and certainly after coughing or sneezing into your hands.

If you are ill with a cough, try to cough into your elbow rather than your hands to prevent the spread of germs.

DO wet hands thoroughly under clean running water, either warm or cold.

Water temperature has not been shown to affect microbe removal.

DO apply mild soap to hands and work into a lather, rubbing hands together for at least 20 seconds and cover all surfaces of the hands, including the front and back, between fingers and under fingernails.

Soap and friction help loosen dirt and germs.

DO dry hands thoroughly with an air dryer or clean paper towel.

DO lead by example and teach your family members, especially children, about proper handwashing to establish lifelong healthy habits.


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    5 Handwashing Don’ts

    DON’T use water that is too hot to wash hands.

    Hot water has not been proven to remove more germs and tends to promote chapping of the skin, making it more susceptible to bacteria.

    DON'T touch the sink surface after washing your hands or you risk contaminating your hands again.

    DON’T use antibacterial soap.

    Antibacterial soaps are no more effective at killing germs than regular soap, and may even promote the development of resistant bacteria. This does not apply to products used in healthcare settings.

    DON’T use a paper towel to turn off the sink after washing, as this has not been shown to improve health and leads to more waste.

    DON’T skip handwashing if soap and running water are not available.

    Instead, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

    Do you have questions you'd like to ask a healthcare provider?

    Schedule an appointment with one of our primary care physicians.

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