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Hand Washing

How to wash your hands:

At home or work, wash your hands often - and properly:

  • Use warm water.
  • Wet your hands before applying soap.
  • Rub your soapy hands together for at least 10 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly to remove all soap.
  • Turn off water with paper towel.
  • Dry your hands with an air-dryer or a clean paper towel.

Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and make sure everyone in your family does too - especially children.

Wash your hands just before eating or preparing food and immediately after touching anything that might contaminate your hands.

How often should I wash my hands?

Hands should be washed often - more frequently than most people do. Because bacteria and other germs cannot be seen with the naked eye, they can be anywhere. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand washing is especially important when:

  • preparing food.
  • before meals.
  • after using the restroom.
  • after touching animals or animal waste.
  • when hands are dirty.
  • when someone around you is ill.

The difference between cleaning and disinfecting:

Cleaning and disinfecting are two different things. Cleaning simply refers to using soap and water to remove dirt and most germs. Disinfecting, on the other hand, refers to cleaning solutions that contain ingredients that kill bacteria and other germs. Many surfaces look clean, but may be contaminated with germs.

The CDC recommends the following when cleaning and/or disinfecting:

  • Wear rubber gloves when cleaning up blood, vomit, or feces, and when you have cuts or abrasions on your hand that make it easy for an infection to enter the body. Even when using gloves, wash your hands after cleaning or disinfecting a surface.
  • Read the directions on the cleaning product label, including the precautions.
  • First, clean the surface with soap (or another cleaner)* and water.
  • Second, use a disinfectant on the surface, and leave it on for a few minutes, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Third, wipe the surface dry with a paper towel, and throw the paper towel away, or use a cloth towel that is washed afterward.
  • Fourth, wash your hands thoroughly, even after wearing gloves.

    *Always store cleaning solutions and other household chemicals in their original containers and out of children's reach.

The two most important household areas to clean and disinfect properly are the kitchen and the bathroom. In the kitchen, bacteria from raw food can contaminate surfaces and food preparation without proper cleaning can spread disease. Other important areas that require proper cleaning include children's changing tables and diaper pails.

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Online Resources of Infectious Diseases

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