Beauty
Fact Checked

How Often Should I Wash my Hands?

Niki Foster
Niki Foster
Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In order to maintain good hygiene and avoid transmitting disease, it is important to wash your hands regularly. While there is no specific standard as to how often you should wash, you should make sure to do so after certain activities, namely those through which the hands are exposed to pathogens. These activities include using the bathroom, coughing or sneezing into the hands, handling raw meat, handling animals, handling trash, changing a diaper, and touching someone who is ill or items that have come into contact with an ill person. It is also important to wash the hands before activities during which the risk of infection from hand-borne bacteria is increased, including eating or preparing food, tending to an ill or injured person, and removing or inserting contact lenses.

Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the transmission of disease. For this reason, it is most important during flu and cold season, and you may wish to wash your hands more than usual during such times. To wash them properly, moisten your hands and rub them together with soap for at least 20 seconds, making sure to wash all parts of the hands and under the nails, then rinse them completely and dry them on a clean towel. Hot water will make thorough rinsing easier, but it does not actually kill germs. After washing your hands in a public restroom, use a paper towel to open the door, as restroom door handles are very likely to house harmful bacteria.

A bar of soap.
A bar of soap.

If you wash your hands often, it may be helpful to use moisturizer after doing so in order to prevent your skin from drying out. This is especially true during the winter, when flu and cold season often coincide with drier weather. Though you must use soap every time you wash, be aware that antibacterial soap may not offer any benefits over regular soap, as many microorganisms are resistant to the antibiotics used in such soaps.

Hands should be washed after handling raw meat.
Hands should be washed after handling raw meat.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also an effective way to wash the hands, although wipes and cleansers that do not contain alcohol are not sufficient. Hand sanitizers are also convenient, as they can be used when soap and water are not available and they do not require rinsing.

It is particularly important to instill hand washing habits in children, since they are both more susceptible to illness and more likely to touch their eyes and mouth often. Remind children to wash their hands properly and regularly, and the habit of cleanliness is more likely to remain with them throughout their lives.

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

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Discussion Comments

anon73136

I agree. Some people are so unaware of germs and the dangers they carry.

catapult43

Definitely washing hands before eating is an important practice. When we get used to it, it becomes second nature.

When away from home and washing hands is not practical, I try not to touch the food with my hands directly. Either utensils, or a napkin are good insulation between the potential germs from hands entering the body.

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    • A bar of soap.
      By: Nataliia
      A bar of soap.
    • Hands should be washed after handling raw meat.
      By: valery121283
      Hands should be washed after handling raw meat.
    • It's a good idea to wash hands after taking out the trash.
      By: Giuseppe Porzani
      It's a good idea to wash hands after taking out the trash.
    • It is important to wash hands after changing a baby's diaper.
      By: AVAVA
      It is important to wash hands after changing a baby's diaper.
    • After frequent hand-washing, many people experience dry hands, which can be remedied with a moisturizing hand cream.
      By: Africa Studio
      After frequent hand-washing, many people experience dry hands, which can be remedied with a moisturizing hand cream.
    • Hand soap is often found in liquid form.
      By: picsfive
      Hand soap is often found in liquid form.
    • Hand washing is an effective way to prevent the spread of germs.
      By: S.Kobold
      Hand washing is an effective way to prevent the spread of germs.
    • In many instances, antibacterial soap should not be used to cleanse the face or other delicate skin.
      By: CandyBox Images
      In many instances, antibacterial soap should not be used to cleanse the face or other delicate skin.
    • The hands should be washed after activities that bring them in contact with germs, such as using the bathroom or taking out the trash.
      By: cantor pannatto
      The hands should be washed after activities that bring them in contact with germs, such as using the bathroom or taking out the trash.