Hand Washing – frequent hand washing with soap and warm water is one of the most effective means of preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Hand contact is a primary method of transmitting bacterial and viral infections. Hand washing kills or removes most pathogenic agents. To wash the hands:

  • Turn on tap to dispense water that is warm but not too hot to hold the hands under its flow.
  • Get hands wet.
  • Apply soap, preferably liquid soap from a dispenser.
  • Work the soap into a lather that covers all surfaces of the hands, taking a full minute.
  • Rinse hands under running water.
  • If it is not possible to turn off the water without touching the faucet handles, leave the water temporarily running.
  • Dry hands thoroughly using disposable towels or a heated air dispenser.
  • Use a paper towel to cover the faucet handle, then turn off the water.
When to Wash the Hands
after changing a diaperafter cleaning dirty dishes
after handling raw meat or poultryafter holding an infant
after petting or handling animalsafter sneezing or coughing into the hand
after sneezing, coughing, or BLOWING THE NOSEafter using the bathroom
before eatingbefore holding an infant
before preparing foodbefore serving food

It is particularly important to wash the hands after going to the bathroom. Fecal-to-oral transmission spreads many gastrointestinal infections. Some studies suggest that many people wash their hands only when they believe someone is observing them. Though hand washing sounds like a simple solution to a complex problem, health experts project it could significantly reduce infectious diseases.

See also BACTERIA; ENTERITIS; FOODBORNE ILLNESSES; GASTROENTERITIS; PERSONAL HYGIENE; TRANSMISSION MODES; VIRUS.

Hand Washing – procedures and facts
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