Handwashing: Key to preventing disease; but are you doing it properly?

Coronavirus

(WPRI) — As children, we learn how to wash our hands. We’re told it’s the best way to prevent the spread of disease and germs. Now, with coronavirus cases on the rise worldwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are reminding people of the best way to wash their hands. The two organizations each offer different variations on the best practices, but the underlying theme is that you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and lather with soapy water. 

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According to the CDC, lather your hands with warm or cold water and soap. Lather not just the palms, but the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Then, scrub them together while singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice through. That is about 20 seconds. Rinse your hands and then dry them with a clean towel. If you aren’t near soap and water, you can use hand sanitizer, but the CDC warns that it might not kill all the germs that water would. 

The World Health Organization recommends you wash your hands for at least a full minute. Check out this video for a demonstration. The best way to time it out, experts say, is to count to 10 with each different step. First, rub palm to palm with soap and water until you create bubbles. Then rub the tops of your hands. Return to palm to palm, with fingers interlaced. Next, interlock both hands and rotate them with fingertips interlocked. Grab your left thumb and scrub by rotating your hand around it with soap and water. Repeat with your right thumb. Last, put all your fingertips from one hand in the palm of the other hand and rotate clockwise then counter-clockwise. Repeat with your opposite hand. Last, rinse your hands and dry with a clean towel. 

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