How Handwashing Can Keep You Healthy

Keeping your hands clean is one of the most basic and important steps you can take to safeguard your health. Handwashing helps stop the spread of germs and reduce the advancement of antibiotic resistance.

Proper Handwashing

Be sure to wash your hands any time you may have touched a surface or object that is a potential harbor for germs, or before preparing food or treating even a minor wound. To properly wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands thoroughly with clean, running water.
  • Lather well, and be sure to scrub your hands front and back, between fingers and under the nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you’re not sure how long that is, try singing the alphabet song.
  • Rinse your hands well, and dry with a clean towel or air dryer.

If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a generous dollop of hand sanitizer. Be sure to apply the sanitizer to all surfaces, and rub until it is dry.

Preventing the Spread of Germs

We use our hands for everything, touching literally hundreds of thousands of surfaces every single day. Each of those surfaces is touched by other people’s hands. When someone sneezes, coughs, or uses the bathroom, and then touches a surface, those germs hang around, ready to be picked up by the next person who touches the surface. Handwashing removes germs that cause illness.

Stop Antibiotic Resistance

By preventing the spread of sickness, we can reduce the number of times a person uses antibiotics in their lifetime. When germs are repeatedly exposed to antibiotics, they develop immunity. By reducing the use of antibiotics, we reduce germs’ ability to develop immunity. Antibiotic resistant germs cause illnesses that are extremely difficult to treat, so this is an important issue.

Keep your hands clean for better health for yourself and your family, and to stop the spread of illness in your community. It’s not just a good health choice; it’s good citizenship as well.

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