5 Easy Steps to Remember for Effective Handwashing

Handwashing how to

Are you part of the 5% doing handwashing right?

We’ve all been guilty of hastily washing our hands at one time or another, but when rushing becomes a habit there can be health consequences. Studies have found that only about 5% of adults wash their hands the right way. The most common washing faux pas include not washing long enough and not using soap. When you don’t wash your hands properly or you skip handwashing after certain activities, you can increase your chances of getting sick by quite a lot.

Handwashing Infographic

How to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

The CDC-recommended method of washing your hands to prevent illness or disease is broken down into just five simple steps:

Step 1: Get your hands wet.

Soap lathers best when your hands are completely wet. You can use cold or warm water as the temperature doesn’t impact the removal of bacteria. There’s no need to use extremely hot water — in fact, it can irritate your skin and invite bacteria.

Step 2: Apply your soap.

Any soap is fine, even plain hand soap. While antibacterial soap offers additional reassurance, science doesn’t show that it’s necessarily more effective than regular soap.

Step 3: Scrub up for 20 seconds!

The most important step is when you’re actually scrubbing your hands. Work the soap around all sides of your hands, up to the wrist, and pay close attention to the fingernails. Actively scrub your hands for a full 20 seconds.

Step 4: Rinse the suds.

Rinse with clean water. Use running water to wash away both the soap residue and the bacteria being removed.

Step 5: Dry off your hands.

After washing, you’ll want to dry your hands completely. You can air dry them, use a forced-air dryer (like you see in public restrooms), or use a clean hand towel. Keep in mind that hand towels are breeding grounds for bacteria so replace your towels daily or every other day.

Prevent illness with proper handwashing habits.

In addition to following the five steps of effective handwashing, you also want to be sure to wash your hands at the right times. This is the key to preventing illnesses.

The simplest way to remember when to wash is to consider if your hands may be contaminated. After using the bathroom is a crucial moment to wash your hands thoroughly. You should also wash your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing, or otherwise interacting with your face, eyes, or nose. Washing your hands before and after touching your face or nose can reduce respiratory illness by 20%. 

You should also wash your hands before and after eating a meal. If you’re cooking, proper handwashing is even more important as foodborne illnesses are easily spread, especially when working with raw produce, meat, and dairy. Washing before, during, and after cooking can reduce your chances of getting sick by 50%.

Dixon, Boles, and Associates maintain a healthy dental home for patients.

The health and safety of our patients and our staff are our top priority. In addition to encouraging handwashing habits and providing access to hand sanitizer, our team also goes to great lengths to exceed CDC and OSHA guidelines for providing a hygienic, sanitary atmosphere in our dental practice. To learn more or to book a visit, give us a call or use this online form.

Dixon Boles & Associates