The Single Best Way to Prevent Illness

Each new flu season we seem to be bombarded with an endless crop of suggestions on ways to keep the bugs at bay: vitamins, herbs, sanitizers, vaccines–you name it. But the most effective way to prevent illness often gets lost in the shuffle (probably because it is so strikingly simple): Wash your hands!

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing is the best way to prevent infection and illness. And imagine–it is cheap, it does not hurt the environment, and there is no question about negative implications for our own health. It is such an obvious win-win.

The CDC recommends that we wash our hands before preparing food and after handling uncooked meat and poultry, before eating, after changing diapers, after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose into a tissue, and after using the bathroom–to that I would add a good wash as soon as you or your children come home from school, work, errands, playing, etc.

Here’s how to wash your hands most effectively:

  • 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. (For my kids, I recommend singing a round of ABCs.)
  • Rinse hands well under running water.
  • When out, dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.
  • Always use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands.

Read about what type of soap to avoid here: The Trouble with Triclosan in Your Soap
Read about making your own homemade all-natural hand sanitizer here: Theive’s Oil Homemade Hand Sanitizer

66 comments

Chrissie H.
Chrissie H.3 years ago

Hardly original, but I find men are far worse than women for not washing their hands when preparing food or after blowing their nose or using the toilet.Do us all a favour men and don't spread your germs to the rest of us okay?

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

Wash your hands is so simple! It's too bad a lot of people don't do it, and then they spread their germs to infect others!!

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.4 years ago

thanks for the info

Carole R.
Carole R.4 years ago

Great ideas that I have used for years.

Diane S.
Diane S.4 years ago

I use a good vegan, natural soap, that wont dry the skin like Castille soap.

Kirsten B.
Kirsten B.4 years ago

So nice to see something so basic presented here, without touting the use of special products or other substances.

Thank you!

Sanja T.
Sanja T.4 years ago

interesting...thanks

Nancy P.
Nancy P.4 years ago

Don't use antibacterial soaps and drying your hands properly are just as important as washing your hands properly.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam4 years ago

noted, thanks.