At home or work, wash your hands often - and properly:
- Use clean, running water; if available, use warm water.
- Wet your hands before applying soap.
- Rub your soapy hands together for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to wash all surfaces well, including your wrists, palms, backs of hands, and fingers.
- Clean and remove the dirt from under your fingernails.
- Under running water, rinse your hands thoroughly to remove all soap.
- Dry your hands with an air-dryer or a clean paper towel.
- Turn off the faucet with a paper towel.
If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used to clean your hands. When using this type of product:
- Apply the gel to the palm of one hand.
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until they are dry.
Hands should be washed often - more frequently than most people and children do. Because bacteria and other germs cannot be seen with the naked eye, they can be anywhere. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand washing is especially important when:
- before preparing food.
- before meals.
- before and after treating an open sore, cut or wound.
- after using the restroom.
- after touching animals or animal waste.
- after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the restroom.
- after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- after handling garbage.
- when hands are dirty.
- when someone around you is ill.
Cleaning and disinfecting are two different things. Cleaning simply refers to using soap and water to remove dirt and most germs. Disinfecting, on the other hand, refers to cleaning solutions that contain ingredients that kill bacteria and other germs. Many surfaces look clean, but may be contaminated with germs.
The CDC recommends the following when cleaning and/or disinfecting:
The two most important household areas to clean and disinfect properly are the kitchen and the bathroom. In the kitchen, bacteria from raw food can contaminate surfaces and food preparation without proper cleaning can spread disease. Other important areas that require proper cleaning include children's changing tables and diaper pails.