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I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Hand Washing Tips

washing hands

The Centers for Disease Control recommends a 5-step hand washing protocol: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Most people do these steps automatically, but small changes can help increase the effectiveness of your hand washing and maximize the removal of disease-causing germs. 

How to best wash your hands

Check out the list below to make sure you’re getting the most out of your hand washing efforts.

  • Wet your hands with clean, warm or cold running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap being sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds which is about the same amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

When to wash your hands 

In addition to recommendations on how to properly wash your hands, there are also important guidelines for when to wash your hands. Here are 10 activities that are wisely coupled with hand washing:

  1. Before, during, and after preparing food
  2. Before eating food
  3. Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  4. Before and after treating a cut or wound
  5. After using the toilet
  6. After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  7. After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  8. After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  9. After handling pet food or pet treats
  10. After touching garbage

If you’d like to understand the science behind the hand washing recommendations, the CDC website offers a synopsis of the studies on which the recommendations are based. Learn more at http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html

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The Penn Medicine Transplant blog features short postings with news about the transplant program at Penn Medicine, notices about upcoming events and health information. Subscribe to the blog and stay connected with Penn's Transplant Program!

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