hand under water

Health is in your hands

Looking to stay healthy this cold and flu season? It’s as easy as washing your hands.

Frequent hand washing is a good way to avoid getting sick. It’s also the first line of defense against spreading illnesses, such as the common cold, influenza, meningitis, bronchitis, hepatitis A and diarrhea.

By washing your hands, not only are you protecting yourself, you’re also protecting the people around you.

Your family, friends or even someone you might run into at the grocery store can unknowingly become infected with your germs simply by touching their eyes, nose or mouth. And once infected, it’s usually just a matter of time before they start feeling ill.

Soap, water and sanitizer

Using plain old soap and water is the best way to reduce germs. If soap is unavailable, an alcohol-based sanitizer is a great alternative. Sanitizer can reduce most germs, but it doesn’t eliminate all types of germs. Sanitizer is not as effective on hands that are not visibly dirty.

How to wash your hands

  • Wet hands with clean, hot or cold water and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to lather the soap and scrub well, ensuring you scrub the back, between fingers and under nails.
  • Continue rubbing for 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands under running water.
  • Dry using a clean towel or by air drying.

Five steps to washing your hands


When should you wash your hands?

When touching people, surfaces and objects, your hands collect germs. You can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. It’s impossible to keep your hands germ-free. But washing your hands frequently helps limit the transfer of germs.


  • • Eating or feeding children
  • • Giving medication or first aid
  • • Applying contact lenses


  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Handling animals
  • Contact with blood, bodily fluids
  • Contact with potentially contaminated areas

Before and After

  • Preparing food
  • Tending to somone who is sick

„    Find more information about fighting germs at cdc.gov or mayoclinic.com.


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