December 4th through 12th is National Handwashing Awareness Week. Read on to learn some helpful hygiene tips.

Though it may seem like a very basic means of personal hygiene, washing your hands can help save lives.

As the weather continues to get colder and we’re spending more and more time indoors and at shopping malls in preparation for the holiday season, we are exposed to an exponential increase in our exposure to bacteria that could potentially make us ill.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regularly washing your hands is one of the most effective steps that you can take in an effort to avoid getting sick or spreading germs to others.

The week of December 4 – 12 is National Handwashing Awareness Week, so to celebrate this potentially life-saving habit, we’re going to delve into the proper way to thoroughly wash your hands, and the best times to do so.

How to wash your hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, warm running water. Turn off the faucet and apply hand soap.
  2. Begin to rub your hands together to bring the soap to a lather. Be sure to cover the spaces between your fingers, under your fingernails, and the fronts and backs of your hands.
  3. A general rule of thumb when it comes to scrubbing your hands is to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from start-to-finish twice. This should be around 20 seconds.
  4. Once the 20 seconds have elapsed, rinse your hands with warm running water.
  5. Either use a clean towel to dry your hands or allow them to air dry.

When should you wash your hands?

  1. After using the restroom
  2. After coming in contact with garbage
  3. After handling pet food and treats
  4. After touching an animal
  5. After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  6. After coming in contact with someone who is sick
  7. Before, during and after preparing food
  8. Before eating a meal

In addition to washing your hands, it’s also important to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, so as not to spread bacteria into your system.

Maintaining proper hygiene through handwashing is the first line of defense against the threat of many illnesses, including to the common cold, as well as more serious conditions such as bronchiolitis, hepatitis A, the flu and meningitis.

If you’re unable to wash your hands, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that includes at least 60 percent alcohol can be used to combat bacteria. Be sure to rub the hand sanitizer thoroughly between your hands – including the tops and fingernails – and allow time for drying.


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