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• Handling garbage, household or garden
chemicals, or anything that could be
contaminated - such as a cleaning cloth
or soiled shoes
In addition, wash your hands whenever
they look dirty.
How to wash your hands
It’s generally best to wash your hands with
soap and water. Follow these simple steps:
• Wet your hands with running water.
• Apply liquid, bar or powder soap.
• Lather well.
• Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20
seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces,
including the backs of your hands,
wrists, between your fingers and under
your fingernails.
• Rinse well.
• Dry your hands with a clean or
disposable towel or air dryer.
• If possible, use your towel to turn off the
Keep in mind that antibacterial soap is
no more effective at killing germs than
is regular soap. Using antibacterial soap
may even lead to the development of
bacteria that are resistant to the product’s
antimicrobial agents - making it harder to
kill these germs in the future.
How to use an alcohol-
based hand sanitizer
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which don’t
require water, are an acceptable alternative
when soap and water aren’t available. If you
choose to use a hand sanitizer, make sure
the product contains at least 60 percent
Then follow these simple steps:
• Apply enough of the product to the
palm of your hand to wet your hands
• Rub your hands together, covering all
surfaces, until your hands are dry.
Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are
another effective option. Again, look for
a product that contains a high percentage
of alcohol. If your hands are visibly dirty,
wash with soap and water.
Kids need clean hands,
Help children stay healthy by encouraging
them to wash their hands properly and
frequently. Wash your hands with your
child to show him or her how it’s done. To
prevent rushing, suggest washing hands
for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy
Birthday” song twice. You might place
hand-washing reminders at your child’s
eye level, such as a chart by the bathroom
sink that can be marked every time your
child washes his or her hands. If your child
can’t reach the sink on his or her own, keep
a step stool handy.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are OK for
children and adolescents, too, especially
when soap and water aren’t available.
Remind your child to make sure the
sanitizer completely dries before he or
she touches anything. Store the container
safely away after use.
Hand-washing is especially important
for children in child care settings. Young
children cared for in groups outside the
home are at greater risk of respiratory
and gastrointestinal diseases, which can
easily spread to family members and other
contacts. Be sure your child care provider
promotes frequent hand-washing or use
of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Ask
whether the children are required to wash
their hands several times a day — not just
before meals. Note, too, whether diapering
areas are cleaned after each use and
whether eating and diapering areas are well
A simple way to stay
Hand-washing doesn’t take much time or
effort, but it offers great rewards in terms
of preventing illness. Adopting this simple
habit can play a major role in protecting
your health.