Regular hand washing is part of a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages. Following the proper hand-washing technique is key to staying healthy, particularly during the cold and flu season. Children also need to learn and practice washing their hands on a regular basis so the whole family is on board with healthy hygiene.
Hand washing does more than get rid of visible dirt and grime. This simple task also helps eliminate the germs you accumulate throughout the day. Germs are found on almost every surface you touch. By washing away a majority of those germs, you reduce your chances of becoming sick with communicable diseases ranging from the common cold to strep throat and hepatitis.
Washing your hands has a short supply list: Soap, warm water and a towel will do the trick. Warm water is most effective at cleaning the hands, but cooler water will also work. When it comes to soap, MayoClinic.com recommends a regular soap over antibacterial versions. Antibacterial soaps can actually make the germs resistant, making it more difficult to kill them down the road.
Washing your hands is always important, but at certain times it’s crucial. Before any activity in which you touch food, whether preparing or eating, you should wash your hands first. Wash your hands immediately after handling raw meat or poultry. If you’re dealing with a sick or injured person, or if you’re ill yourself, wash your hands. You should also wash your hands after using the restroom, changing a diaper, handling pets, touching garbage, changing a cat box, sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
To wash your hands, first wet them under warm water. Add your soap and rub your hands together to work up a lather. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing — a step that few people manage to perform. Make sure you give all surfaces of the hands and fingernails a scrubbing during those 20 seconds. Rinse away all of the suds before drying your hands on a clean towel.
When soap and water aren’t available and you need to wash your hands, try an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as an alternative. MayoClinic.com recommends choosing a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Rub in the sanitizer until your hands are dry.