Scrub ‘em up! It’s National Handwashing Awareness Week

hand_washingThe Centers for Disease Control calls handwashing the most important thing you can do to prevent illness. Frequent handwashing can help prevent the spread of colds and flu, as well as more serious diseases like meningitis and hepatitis-A.

The trouble is many of us don’t think our hands are dirty when in fact they are. Statistics show that only 2/3 of adults wash their hands after using the bathroom, only 1/4 do so after changing a diaper, less than half do it after cleaning up after their pets, and only 1/3 do it after sneezing or coughing into their hands.

That’s a lot of germs flying around. In fact, 1/3 of E.coli cases can be attributed to not washing hands prior to food handling.

In an effort to stop the spread of infectious diseases and promote awareness, December 1-7, 2013 is observed as National Handwashing Awareness Week.

In addition to the CDC, many other organizations have gotten behind the initiative. Dr. Will Sawyer, an infection prevention specialist, is behind, a website that aims to teach kids about proper handwashing and other cleanliness principles.

No matter the organization, the principles behind effective handwashing are pretty simple and easy to practice.

When to wash:

  • Wash your hands when they’re dirty.
  • Always wash your hands before eating.
  • Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after pets, or handling money.
  • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.
  • Don’t put your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth.

How to wash:

  • Wet hands with warm (not hot) water and use soap.
  • Rub you hands together, making sure to scrub all areas.
  • Rub for a minimum of 20 seconds or sing “Happy Birthday.”
  • Rinse thoroughly, then dry hands on a clean towel.
  • Turn faucet off with the towel, not hands, to keep away from recontamination.

For more information, visit the CDC or Dr. Sawyer’s website.


Photo credit: invisible monsters

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