Public Health Fact Sheet

Clean Hands Save Lives!
The most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of illness is to wash your hands  thoroughly and often. Children need help to ensure they are washing their hands correctly.

How do I wash my hands correctly?
Follow these five steps every time.
  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.  Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Are there extra precautions I should take when washing my hands in a public restroom?
If the towel dispenser has a handle, be sure to roll the paper down before you wash your hands so you don't need to touch the handle again with your freshly cleaned hands.  For hand-held faucets, turn off the water using a paper towel instead of your newly washed hands.  Open the door to the bathroom with a paper towel and throw it away.

When should I wash my hands:
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before you eat or drink
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning p a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
Additional information is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/handwashing/
February 2020