We’re celebrating World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5 with a gentle reminder that properly performing hand hygiene with soap and water or hand sanitizer is one of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of germs and infection.
How germs spread
Every time we touch a surface or object throughout the day, germs start to build up on our hands. The longer these germs remain, the greater chance you have of infecting yourself (if you touch your face with unwashed hands) and infecting those around us (if you touch another surface before washing your hands).
While it’s impossible to keep your hands completely germ free, practicing appropriate hand hygiene and frequently washing your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer can protect yourself and others from exposure to germs and other infections.
What if there’s no soap or water?
While using warm water and soap is the preferred method for cleaning your hands, alcohol-based hand sanitizers will work too. The World Health Organization recommends following three steps when applying hand sanitizer:
Apply no more than a quarter-size amount of sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
Thoroughly rub your hands together, making sure the sanitizing gel covers the backs of each hand, wrists, and in between your fingers and thumbs.
Continue rubbing the sanitizer until your hands are dry.
Take your time and be thorough
Infectious disease experts recommend washing your hands with warm, soapy water for about 20 seconds, making sure you get between your fingers, fingertips and thumbs.
When washing your hands at home, regular soap and water can be as effective as any over-the-counter antibacterial soap.
Alex Carnahan, Infection Preventionist with Community Medical Centers explains the importance of hand hygiene – and how to properly wash your hands.