Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important things you can do to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to other people. There are many resources available to teach people how and why to wash their hands. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have handwashing resources available including videos, curricula, posters, and more.
Age-appropriate handwashing curriculum (MDH)
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), handwashing can help prevent illness. There are five simple steps to washing your hands:
- 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.
Using soap and water is the best way to wash your hands, but if you don't have access to soap and water, you can use hand sanitizer. Make sure the hand sanitizer has at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers can reduce the number of germs but they do not get rid of all types of germs. Also, hand sanitizers may not be as effective as soap and water when your hands are visibly dirty or are greasy or oily.
The CDC recommends these steps for using hand sanitizer:
- Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
How to Wash Your Hands - Minnesota Department of Health video