Editor’s Note: This post was recently updated with resource information in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. See resource listing below the post.
Interested in a low-cost, do-it-yourself, way to defend against germs?
Try washing your hands with soap. It’s the proven, old-school method that works best.
Your hands are the main carriers of infections and disease-causing germs. In fact, touching things is how most infectious diseases are spread.
Hand-washing performed at key moments throughout the day is shown to prevent a variety of diseases and infections.
Here are a few frequently asked questions from the CDC to help get you in the hand-washing habit.
When should I wash my hands?
- Before, during and after preparing food.
- Before eating.
- Before and after caring for someone who’s sick.
- 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.
What’s the correct way to wash my hands?
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
What should I do if I don’t have soap?
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers quickly can reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.