Most of us have heard about the importance of washing our hands since we were kids. But simply washing them is not enough; there are some proper hand washing steps we must follow for effective hand hygiene. It might seem simple or silly to devote an article to hand washing, but the truth is, it matters.
Below, we’ll cover why proper hand washing techniques help keep us safe plus how you can ensure you’re washing your own hands in the most successful way.
Why Does Hand Hygiene Matter?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), washing our hands correctly is one of the best steps we can take to avoid spreading germs and getting sick. Many diseases get spread when people don’t wash their hands correctly—and that includes those washing without soap.
By following these hand washing steps, you can help protect yourself, your family, and even strangers from getting unnecessary illnesses.
Proper Hand Washing Steps to Follow Today
Always wash your hands with soap and water, and use these techniques:
- Start by wetting your hands with fresh, clean running water. The temperature doesn’t matter too much—warm or cold is fine.
- Cup your hands and and add soap. You can use liquid soap, bar soap, or even a powder soap.
- Lather the soap. Rub your hands together briskly to get the soap to bubble up.
- Scrub your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. You can count it out, or just sing the “happy birthday” song through twice. Be sure to wash all surfaces of both hands, including the backs, wrists, in between your fingers, and under all fingernails.
- Rinse the soap from your hands. Use clean, running water like at the beginning.
- Use a clean, dry towel to dry your hands. If you’re in a public place and they only have paper towels, use a clean piece and discard after use.
- Use towel or paper to turn off the faucet. Same goes for opening the bathroom door if you’re in a public bathroom. This helps prevent the spread of germs if someone who didn’t wash their hands properly touched these surfaces.
How Often and When to Wash Your Hands
When you wash your hands matters just as much as how you wash them. Since we all touch things as we go about our days, it’s easy to transfer viruses and bacteria to ourselves and others. (This is especially the case during cold and flu season.)
Washing your hands frequently can help minimize the spread of disease—and there are certain times when washing is most important.
Wash your hands before you perform actions like:
- Eat or prepare food
- Put in or take out contact lenses
- Treat wounds
- Care for someone who is sick
And wash your hands after you do things like:
- Go to the bathroom
- Prepare food
- Touch an animal, distribute pet food or treats, or pick up waste
- Change a diaper
- Treat wounds
- Care for someone who is sick
- Cough, sneeze, or blow your nose
- Handle garbage
You should also always wash your hands if you notice they are dirty.
If you have children, encourage them to also wash their hands often. Germs can easily spread between young people, so teach them proper hand washing and hygiene early on.
What about Antibacterial Soap?
Even the name of antibacterial soap suggests it’s effective at killing germs. But antibacterial soaps actually do not get rid of the bad guys any better than regular soaps—and they come with some risks.
Just like with antibiotics, using antibacterial soap can lead to the development of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. This means the bacteria may adapt and become even harder to kill in the future. So, for the sake of your health, skip the antibacterial soap (including those with triclosan and triclocarban) and use regular, all-natural hand soap instead.
What About Hand Sanitizer for Cleaning Hands?
If you don’t have soap and water available but need to wash your hands, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative. Just make sure the product has at least 60 percent alcohol. Also, look for natural hand sanitizer brands without triclosan, benzalkonium chloride, or synthetic colors or fragrances.
Here’s how to properly use a hand sanitizer:
- Add the product to the palm of one hand, and distribute enough to cover both hands.
- Rub your hands together until all surfaces, including your fingers, are covered. Continue gently rubbing until the hand sanitizer dries.
Note: While alcohol-based hand sanitizers can decrease the amount of germs on your hands, they don’t get rid of all germs. They also can’t remove certain harmful agents like chemicals the way soap and water can. Use sanitizers when needed, but wash your hands as soon as you can after.
Buy All-Nature Hand Wash and Hand Sanitizers
Do you use proper hand washing technique? If not, you can start today! And at Nature’s Ideal, we specialize in all-natural products like Liquid Hand Soaps, Bar Soaps, and Hand Sanitizers. They’re free of harmful ingredients, and many of us our products are gluten-free, organic, and/or cruelty-free. Browse both sections today to stock up on quality hand washing products!