Wash your hands!

close up of woman's hands washing her hands in sink

It‘s a simple act, but washing your hands frequently with soap and water plays a big role in keeping you and those around you healthy. It kills germs and keeps you from spreading illness.

Times when it’s especially important to wash your hands include:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • When you are caring for someone who is sick or injured
  • After using the toilet or changing diapers
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching or caring for animals
  • After touching garbage

Believe it or not, there is a “right” way to wash your hands so that you can kill the most sickness-causing viruses and bacteria.

  1. Wet your hands with clean running water.
  2. Add soap and rub all over your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails to make a good lather.
  3. Continue this for 20 seconds (many people sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice as a timer).
  4. Finally, rinse your hands well and air dry or use a clean towel.

If your hands aren't visibly dirty, and you can't get to water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

 

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


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