May 5th is Clean Your Hands Day. The goal is to help improve hand hygiene, primarily in the health care fields. While the World Health Organization’s initiative focuses mainly on health care, we can all learn something about proper handwashing from Clean Your Hands Day. Experts in infection control emphasize that handwashing is a top way to reduce the spread of germs and diseases. That not only includes in health care situations, but also in restaurants, public restrooms, schools and even in your home.
As a reminder, here are the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations for proper handwashing:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, 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. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel.
If you don’t have access to clean, running water, hand sanitizers can work in a pinch. However, they do not work as well if your hands are visibly dirty.
So when should you wash your hands?
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is 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
Want to boost handwashing rates in your organization? Studies have found that handwashing improves in locations with reminders. They don’t need to be fancy; just a simple “Wash Your Hands” will work. You can also print out the handwashing steps below and hang them to ensure people know the proper techniques to remove germs and bacteria from their hands.