DEC. 3-9 is National Handwashing Awareness Week

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect you and those around you from getting sick. Clean hands reduce the spread of germs and other bacteria easily found in public spaces like classrooms and libraries. Did you know the CDC has guidelines for washing your hands during this cold & flu season?

When to wash your hands

The CDC recommends everyone wash their hands before engaging in the following activities:

  • 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

How to wash your hands

Handwashing can be broken up into 5 easy steps:

  • 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 or air dry them.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best method of eliminating germs, however these conditions aren’t always available. If you don’t have access to soap and water, try using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. While these sanitizers can quickly reduce the amount of germs on your hands, they do not remove all types of germs and might not remove harsh chemicals.

For more information on effective hand washing methods and benefits, visit