There is a right way and a wrong way to wash your hands. The wrong way would be to give your hands an obligatory rinse with water because no one is looking. The right way, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is:
- Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
- Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
- Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds.
- Rinse hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.
The Mayo Clinic adds this precaution: antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap. Using antibacterial soap may even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product’s antimicrobial agents — making it harder to kill these germs in the future.
If you cannot wash using soap and water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (it should contain 60 percent alcohol) which doesn’t require water is an good alternative. Use enough to wet your hands completely and rub for up to 25 seconds or until dry.
While we’re at it, let’s not forget to clean surfaces around the home often, especially in the kitchen, where improper handling and preparation of food and cross-contamination are a leading cause of food-borne illness.
We’ve known about the benefits of hand washing for a long time. When it comes to taking responsibility for our own health, nothing could be easier.
Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo