Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and others from getting sick.
Washing your hands with soap and water is simple and easy. More importantly, it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
You can help yourself and others stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when germs are likely to get on your hands and can easily spread to you or others:
Follow the five steps below to wash your hands the right way every time.
This video can also help you learn how to wash your hands the right way.
Why? Read the science behind the recommendations.
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer[423 KB] that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do NOT get rid of all types of germs.
Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. Furthermore, hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals like pesticides and heavy metals from hands. Be cautious when using hand sanitizers around children; swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if a person swallows more than a couple mouthfuls.
How do you use hand sanitizers?