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How’s Your Handwashing Technique?

It’s always a good idea to practice proper handwashing technique, and most of us know we should do it. Handwashing lowers the risk of many types of disease. But with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, there’s new emphasis on this very important way to stop the spread of the disease, which is especially dangerous for older adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges us to wash our hands at the right time.

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a person 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

And in the right way:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to 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. It’s also a good idea to use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (check the label). Here’s how:

  • 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. As with washing with soap and water, this should take around 20 seconds.Washing our hands protects not only ourselves, but also others. It only takes about half a minute to kill a bunch of germs. That’s handwashing power!

Need more information? The CDC has an entire section on handwashing technique. Check it out at

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise reporting on materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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