The Importance of Handwashing
Posted on March 8, 2017 by CHS
The simple act of handwashing can help keep you and your family healthy. Handwashing has been proven to reduce the spread of germs and prevent illness. In most situations, washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to remove germs. Be a role model and teach your child healthy handwashing habits.
It is easy to remember to wash your hands when you can see the dirt on them, but what about the germs we cannot always see? Make sure your family knows they should wash their hands…
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after giving first aid
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animals or their food
- After handling garbage
- After playing outside
Follow these steps to correctly wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water. The water can be warm or cold. Turn off the tap.
- Apply soap to your hands and rub them together. Be sure to rub soap on the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. An easy way to count 20 seconds is to hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice, or sing the “ABC Song” once.
- Rinse the soap off your hands with clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel.
There may be times when you and your family do not have access to clean water and soap. In those circumstances you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Just remember that alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not remove all types of germs, and they might not remove harmful chemicals.
To correctly use hand sanitizer:
- Apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.
- Wash your hands as soon as you have access to clean water and soap.
You can watch the following videos about handwashing with your child:
- “Fight Germs. Wash Your Hands!” https://www.cdc.gov/cdctv/healthyliving/hygiene/fight-germs-wash-hands.html
- “Acabe con los microbios. ¡Lávese las manos!” https://www.cdc.gov/cdctv/spanish/healthyliving/acabe-con-los-microbios.html
- “Global Handwashing Day 2016” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWmok9avzr4
You can also visit your public library to check out these books:
- Germs Are Not For Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick (ages 0-5)
- Sherm the Germ by Dr. John Hutton (ages 0-5)
- A Germ’s Journery by Dr. Thom Rooke (ages 6-8)
- Germs Make Me Sick by Melvin Berger (ages 4-8)
Sometimes seeing a small poster on the wall near the sink can remind people to practice healthy handwashing habits. Here is information that you can read and print:
- Handwashing: A Family Activity (English) https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/hygiene/hwfamily.pdf
- Handwashing: A Family Activity (Spanish) https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/handwashing-family-activity-esp-508.pdf
- When and How to Wash Your Hands (English) https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/wash-your-hands-fact-sheet.pdf
- When and How to Wash Your Hands (Spanish) https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/stop-germs-spanish.pdf
- Wash Your Hands Properly (Poster with Pictures) English http://cchp.ucsf.edu/sites/cchp.ucsf.edu/files/Handwashing_EN.pdf
- Wash Your Hands Properly (Poster with Pictures) Spanish http://cchp.ucsf.edu/sites/cchp.ucsf.edu/files/Wash_SP.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/hand/handwashing.html
- University of California San Francisco California Childcare Health Program http://cchp.ucsf.edu/content/resources