How to Properly Wash Your Hands: 5 Easy Steps
A cropped shot of a young woman washing her hands in her bathroom

How to Properly Wash Your Hands: 5 Easy Steps

A cropped shot of a young woman washing her hands in her bathroom.
CDC.gov. A cropped shot of a young woman washing her hands in her bathroom.

By Courtney Bibo March 17, 2020

This article isn’t meant to offer you earth-shattering news. This article is meant to point out a few things that have probably become bad habits for many of you when washing your hands. That is, things that are preventing you from having the cleanest hands possible. Despite all the medical advances and new-age chemicals of our modern era, hand-washing is still the most effective way to combat infection (Mathur, 2011). Isn’t that amazing? Something as simple as washing our hands is the most effective way to keep infection and illnesses down. I find that fascinating! Read on for 5 easy steps to properly wash your hands to help you become the Smartest Patient!

Let’s start

Step 1: Getting ready

Take off jewelry (rings, bracelets, watches) and get hands wet.

Step 2: Soaping up

Pump soap into your hand and create a lather by rubbing both hands together outside the stream of water. This is extremely important! I catch many people commenting that they’re “washing for 20 seconds!” yet, they’re doing all their scrubbing under the running water. The issue with this is all the soap is being washed down the drain. Therefore, it’s not able to do its job on your hands. Keep those hands away from the water while scrubbing!

Step 3: Scrubbing

Scrub those hands together for 20 seconds! Scrub the backs of hands, between fingers, wrists, tops of nails, and underneath the nails. It’s hard to know just how long 20 seconds is when you don’t have a stopwatch or clock with hands around. If you sing “Happy Birthday”, twice, that will take you at least 20 seconds. (I’ve timed myself doing this- it really does take about 21 seconds to sing it twice!)

Step 4: Rinsing

Rinse thoroughly without touching any part of the sink. I realize this isn’t a sterile procedure, and you’re not headed for the operating room, but the sides of the sink are gross! Stay away from them; it’s just a good habit to have!

Step 5: Drying

Once you’re thoroughly rinsed, meaning all of the soaps suds are gone from your hands, grab some paper towels. Dry your hands. Don’t forget between the fingers and backs of hands. Once you’re dry, then turn off the water. You don’t want to touch the dirty faucet handles with your freshly cleaned hands that you just touched before they were washed!

I hope these 5 easy steps on how to properly wash your hands plays in your mind the next time you’re at the sink!

For additional information from the CDC on washing hands click here.

References

Mathur, P. (2011). Hand hygiene: Back to the basics of infection control. The Indian journal of medical research134(5), 611–620. https://doi.org/10.4103/0971-5916.90985

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