Properly washing your hands is extremely important for protecting your health as well as the health of others. If hands are not effectively cleaned, lingering germs and microbes can be transferred to other surfaces, causing the spread of illness to those who touch said surfaces. Now that we are dealing with coronavirus, hand-washing is more important than ever. But did you know that there's a proper way to wash your hands? While we've been washing our hands our whole lives, an increase in public awareness has shown there are several steps many of us have been missing.
According to the Mayo Clinic, germs can live on hard surfaces for several hours depending on the temperature and humidity. Although touching infected areas and objects do indeed pass along harmful germs, the most common way humans spread germs is via physical contact, such as shaking hands. With this knowledge in mind, it’s easy to see why periodically cleansing your hands is so important.
With that being said, let’s take your hand-washing skills from just “eh” to “eh”-ffective.
How to Properly Wash Your Hands
Start by wetting your hands with water. According to the CDC, either warm or cold water will work. Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces.
With the soap in hand, start by rubbing your palms together in a circular, counter-clockwise motion.
Next, place your right palm over the backside of your left hand, with fingers interlaced. Rub palm up toward the fingertips of your left hand and back down continuously. Switch hands and repeat.
Now, with palms touching and fingers interlaced, rub palms up toward the fingers and back down. Fingers should be interlocked the entire time.
Take your right hand and make a semi-opened fist with fingers flush against one another and tips not quite touching the palm. Now do the same with your left hand. Flip one hand over (one hand with the thumb pointing up, the other pointing down) and interlock the fingers of each hand. The backs of the fingers should be pressed against the opposing palms. Keeping your fingertips pressed together, move the hands up and down, creating a scrubbing motion against the back of your fingers.
With your right hand, keep the semi-opened fist. Now, use your right hand to clasp the thumb of your left hand. Rub the thumb using a rotational motion. Switch hands and repeat.
On your right hand, put fingers together as if you are holding a pencil. Bring your ring and pinky finger up next to your middle finger, keeping fingers flush against one other in the clasped position. Now rub fingertips of the right hand against the palm of the left hand in a counter-clockwise motion. Next, change to a clockwise rubbing motion. Switch hands and repeat.
Rinse your hands thoroughly in running water, making sure no soap residue is left behind.
Dry your hands thoroughly with a single use paper towel or clean hand towel. A hand towel used multiple times by several people is no longer considered clean and must be replaced and washed.
Use your paper towel to turn off the faucet. If you’re in a restroom, you can also use the paper towel to turn or pull the handle when exiting. Dispose of your paper towel.
How long do I wash my hands?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both advised washing your hands for approximately 20 seconds. They suggest singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to be sure you are washing your hands for the full amount of time. While the happy birthday song is alright, many of us can’t help but experience extremely unpleasant flashbacks that feature waiters belting out this little ditty while you sit there mortified. Let’s throw some more exciting music in to make it more fun!
Here is a list of our 5 favorite songs with a 20 second chorus to sing while you wash your hands:
1. Karma Chameleon by Culture Club
20 Second Segment: "Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon / You come and go, you come and go / Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams / Red, gold and green, red, gold and green"
2. Jolene by Dolly Parton
20 Second Segment: "Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / I'm begging of you, please don't take my man / Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / Please don't take him just because you can"
3. Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
20 Second Segment: "Well, I've been afraid of changing / 'Cause I've built my life around you / But time makes you bolder / Even children get older / I'm getting older too"
4. Africa by Toto
20 Second Segment: "It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you / There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do / I bless the rains down in Africa / Gonna take some time to do the things we never had"
5. Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle
20 Second Segment: "Ooh baby, do you know what that's worth? / Ooh heaven is a place on earth / They say in heaven love comes first / We'll make heaven a place on earth / Ooh heaven is a place on earth"
Wash your hands before and after using the restroom.
Wash your hands with warm water
Be sure to wash hands multiple times a day.
If you are not able to wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. While not a substitute to actually washing your hands, using hand sanitizer is better than not washing at all.