- Wet your handswith clean, running water — preferably warm, but cold water will suffice — and apply a quarter-sized amount of soap onto your palm
- Rub your handstogether to produce a rich lather and apply enough pressure to dislodge any heavy soils; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, underneath your fingernails and be mindful that dirt and germs can also reside on your wrist and forearm
- Continue rubbingyour hands together for at least 20 seconds so that all unwanted matter is dislodged and any active ingredients such as antimicrobial additives have time to work; humming the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice is a good timer that people of all ages can relate to and easily understand
- Rinse your handswell under running water — again, warm is preferred, but cold water will do the job — while continuing to rub them together to remove the maximum amount of germs, bacteria, soils and other foreign matter from your skin
- Dry your handsthoroughly using a clean towel or a high-powered air dryer; paper towels are recommended by many because the friction helps remove additional fomites or dead skin cells, while air dryers are heralded for their speed and sustainability.
A Trifecta To Top It Off
Thoroughly and frequently washing hands with soap and warm water is the best way to reduce pathogenic microorganisms and maintain good health.
But, if soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer — the debate is still raging as to whether alcohol-based sanitizers or non-alcohol foaming varieties are more adept at safe sanitization — should be utilized.
Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands, but they do not eliminate all types of germs and are not a failsafe.
Just as disinfectants do not work well on surfaces with gross soiling, instant hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty.
However, when using a hand sanitizer alone is the only option, it is as simple as one, two, three:
- Apply a quarter-sized amount of sanitizer to the palm of one hand — preferably after soils have been removed to the best of your ability
- Rub your hands together to spread the sanitizer; be sure to pay attention to the backs of your hands, between your fingers, underneath your fingernails and be mindful that your wrist and forearm might harbor harmful germs and bacteria
- Continue rubbing your hands, fingers and other cracks and crevices until the sanitizer has evaporated and your hands are dry.
For Those Who Wonder When To Wash
- Before and after preparing or consuming food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or a wound
- After using the restroom
- After encountering human or animal waste
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After touching garbage or refuse
- Whenever they are visibly soiled.