Public Health Topics
Make Handwashing a Healthy Habit

Handwashing is an easy and effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Help keep yourself and others healthy by practicing good handwashing habits. Did you know? Handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 cases of diarrhea and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.

Steps for Handwashing:

  1. Wet your hands with water.
  2. Lather up with soap. Soap gets rid of the oil that helps germs stick to your hands.
  3. Rub and scrub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Strongly rub and scrub your wrists, palms, between fingers, under your nails, and the back of your hands. The soap and scrubbing action loosens the germs off your hands.
  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly with running water.
  5. Dry your hands completely with a clean towel or paper towel. Use the towel to turn off the faucet when you’re finished drying your hands. Throw the paper towel away.

Download the Steps for Handwashing flyer here

Download the Steps for Handwashing poster here.

A student from the BCHD Youth Advisory Council demonstrates how to properly wash your hands.

Tip: If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can usually be found as a gel or wipes. Make sure the product is at least 60% alcohol.

Wash your hands often, especially during these key times:

  • After using the restroom
  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • After touching garbage
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • After changing diapers
  • After touching an animal
  • After handling pet food

Parents, help your children stay healthy by encouraging them to wash their hands often, using proper technique. Wash your hands with them to show them how it’s done. To ensure they wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. If they have trouble reaching the sink, keep a step stool handy.


Information sourced from:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mayo Clinic