Are you washing your hands the right way? Even though this everyday activity may seem like a no-brainer, it’s possible to do it incorrectly. Make the most of this easy hygiene practice and take a look at the dos and don’ts of effective handwashing.

Do Understand the Reasons for Handwashing

The more you know about this hygiene practice, the more likely you are to engage in it — and engage in it correctly. Even though you can’t see the germs on your hands, these microscopic organisms are there. Every time you touch a surface, you risk picking up viral and bacterial particles. When you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, these leftover particles can enter your body and cause an illness.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand washing reduces the number of respiratory illnesses in the general American population by between 16 and 21 percent. While this may not seem like a dramatic statistic, the CDC also notes that this hygiene practice could protect up to one in every five children from pneumonia and other respiratory infections.

Don’t Assume Soap Is the Only Answer

The CDC recommends lathering your hands with soap and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. Follow these steps by thoroughly rinsing your hands under running tap water and completely drying all surfaces. While the 20-second full scrub is a gold standard for handwashing, it isn’t the only way to stop the spread of illness or reduce the risks of germs.

Soap, running water, and clean or dry towels aren’t always available. However, this doesn’t mean your hand hygiene needs to suffer.

Even though soap and water can remove germs from the surface of your hands, you also have other options. Soap-free and waterless products that sanitize your skin or create an invisible barrier between your hands and anything you touch are alternatives to explore. These types of products are easy to use, convenient, and won’t require a sink and towels.

Do Clean Your Hands When Necessary

Now that you know why you should wash your hands and how to keep them clean when soap, running water, and clean towels aren’t available, you can take the next step and make sure that your hand hygiene happens at the right time.

The CDC recommends washing your hands:

  • Before, during, and after food preparation
  • Before and after eating
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the restroom
  • After changing an infant’s diapers
  • After blowing your nose
  • After coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • After touching animals
  • After touching garbage or waste products

Along with these times, you should also clean your hands after touching certain hard surfaces or objects. High-touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons or doorknobs, can harbor microorganisms. Failure to adequately clean your hands after touching these items can leave you at risk for a transmissible illness. A portable or water-free hand-cleaning product can help you to quickly remove germs left behind by other people.

Don’t Forget About Moisture

You’ve found the right products and are ready to keep your hands clean. Nevertheless, over-washing or over-sanitizing can dry out your skin. While dry skin on its own typically isn’t a serious medical issue, cracks in this natural barrier can allow bacteria in. This can result in redness, pain, and infection.

If your skin is dry and flaky, consider a hand-cleaning product that also adds moisture. A moisturizer hydrates and can stop cracking before it starts. While you can buy separate washing and moisturizing products, a combination option can save you money, time, and energy.

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