Q:

How do you properly wash your hands?

A:

Quick Answer

Wash your hands properly by running them under mild water until they are wet, shutting off the tap, applying soap to your hands, lathering for a least 20 seconds and then rinsing. After washing your hands, dry them using a clean paper towel, cloth towel or forced hot air.

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How do you properly wash your hands?
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Full Answer

Turning off the tap is important because it conserves water and heat and because it encourages you to spend at least 20 seconds working the soap into your skin. A full 20 seconds of lathering is necessary to allow the antibacterial chemicals in the soap to kill any pathogens on your hands. Make sure you are taking at least 20 seconds by slowly and quietly counting backwards from 20. Alternatively, you can hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end, as this takes about 20 seconds.

If you don't have access to clean running water and antibacterial soap, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer makes a good occasional substitute. Use hand sanitizer by applying the liquid evenly to both of your hands. Alcohol evaporates at room temperature, so drying your hands is not necessary after application. Only use hand sanitizers occasionally, as overuse of these products may increase sensitivity to certain pathogens.

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