Yes, there’s a right way you should be washing your hands

Are you washing your hands properly? A doctor breaks down the right way you should be doing it.
Published March 6, 2020 10:00 a.m. EST
Last Updated March 10, 2020 12:00 a.m. EST
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The best defense against the coronavirus—and a host of other illnesses—is washing your hands! That might seem simple, but if it's not done incorrectly, it won't get rid of those pesky germs at all. Your Hand hygiene coordinator at St. Joseph's Healthcare, Isabelle Grguric, explains how to do it properly.

WHEN TO WASH YOUR HANDS

You should ALWAYS wash your hands if you can see that they are physically dirty. Other times to always wash your hands include:
  • After sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose
  • After using the washroom
  • After handling garbage
  • After changing diapers
  • After handling raw foods
  • After outdoor play or work
  • Before and after preparing and eating food
  • Before and after touching a cut or open sore
  • Before and after touching eyes, nose or mouth

HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS

Follow these steps for perfectly clean hands:
  1. Wet hands
  2. Apply soap
  3. Lather for 15 – 20 seconds (you can hum “Happy Birthday” twice)
  4. Rub between fingers, thumbs, back of hands, fingertips, under nails
  5. Rinse well under running water
  6. Dry hands well with paper towel or hot air blower
  7. Avoid touching things on your way out
You should always move or remove watches or jewelry from your wrist before washing. Plus, drying your hands well is imperative, as germs can transfer more easily through wet hands! Hand sanitizers are also very useful when soap and water are not available, but should always be considered a secondary option to washing hands with soap and water.

HANDWASHING DON'TS

  • DON’T allow water to run over hands while lathering – this washes soap away and makes handwashing less effective
  • DON’T touch the sink surface after washing – it is contaminated with microbes
  • DON’T spend extra money on “antibacterial soap”, which are no more effective at killing germs than regular soap, and may even promote the development of resistant bacteria
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