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Why is it important to wash our hands?

The importance of hand washing has been a hot topic recently as the flu and coronavirus continue to spread. And while hand washing should be a daily ritual that all of us are familiar with, it doesn’t hurt to revisit why hand washing is so important, and how to do it properly. 

Why is it important to wash our hands? 

Washing our hands is important because it is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that make people sick. Physically scrubbing your hands with soap and water removes germs and other harmful chemicals. Hand sanitizer can kill many bacteria, but there are some germs that can only be washed away with the presence of soap.

What is the proper way to wash our hands? 

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other great organizations provide step-by-step guides to hand washing.  Here are the steps:

Step 1:  Wet your hands and apply enough liquid soap to create a good lather and use warm water.

Step 2: Rub palms together in a circular motion – first clockwise and then counterclockwise.

Step 3: Rub the back of your hands with your other hand linking your fingers through.   First your left and then your right.

Step 4: Interlink your fingers in clasped hands and rub your fingers and your palms together.

Step 5: Cup your fingers in the palm of the opposite hand and rub those fingers good.

Step 6: Clean your thumbs by cupping each thumb with the opposite hand and twisting.

Step 7: Rub palms with your fingers in a circular motion – first left and then right.

The whole activity should take the time it takes for you to sing Happy Birthday twice – approximately 20 seconds. 

Now rinse and dry your hands well!  Damp hands pick up more germs than dry hands. Turn off the tap by using a paper towel or your elbow so you keep your hands clean.  Don’t forget to use that paper towel to open any doors as well.

How often should we wash our hands?

The simple answer? Often! Be sure to wash your hands when you arrive to a spot such as getting to work or arriving home.  And definitely wash after coughing or blowing your nose, before making a meal or eating a meal, and without a doubt after your potty break. It is easy – so wash!

Remember, washing your hands also protects those around you. Children, the elderly, and those with immune disease or cancer may not have the ability to fight off certain illnesses. Keep them safe, be kind, and wash your dirty hands. 

For additional information on handwashing and when to use hand sanitizer, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Clean Hands Save Lives website. And if you or a loved one are experiencing flu-like symptoms, stay home, we come to you! Book a same-day appointment on the FetchMD app.

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