It takes five steps and 20 seconds to clean hands.

Did you know that it only takes 20 seconds of your time to greatly reduce your chances of catching an illness? From something as serious as pneumonia to a 24-hour stomach bug, many different types of sickness and disease can be prevented with a practice as simple as washing your hands.

Unfortunately, handwashing is one of those habits that tend to be rushed through. Roughly 95% of people don’t practice proper handwashing habits, including not washing for long enough, not using soap, or skipping important times to scrub up.

Here’s a refresher on the proper handwashing technique to prevent illness and the spread of germs.

Here’s how and when to wash your hands the correct way.

Overwashing your hands can actually be detrimental to the health of your skin and increase the chance of a bacterial or fungal issue. You don’t need to wash your hands incessantly, but rather before or after specific events that tend to increase the number of germs present on your hands.

You need to wash your hands:

  • Before and after prepping food or eating
  • Before and after caring for someone
  • Before and after any first aid care
  • After using the bathroom
  • After sneezing or coughing
  • After touching animal or animal feed
  • After touching garbage or waste

It’s also a good idea to wash up after you’ve been out shopping or touching many different surfaces. While you may have great handwashing habits, others may not. In fact, credit cards, cash or coins, and even cellphones can have fecal material on them!

When you wash your hands you want to focus on washing thoroughly with soap and washing for a full 20 seconds.

There are five steps to remember for safe handwashing:

  1. Get your hands wet with clean water. Any temperature is fine.
  2. Soap up your hands. Plain soap is perfectly acceptable.
  3. Scrub for 20 seconds. Work the soap thoroughly around your hands, especially on the fingers and around the nails.
  4. Rinse thoroughly under clean running water.
  5. Dry off your hands with a clean towel.

What about hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer is a great way to kill a large number of bacteria, viruses, and fungal spores that may be on your hands. The CDC recommends using a product with at least 60% alcohol for the most effective result. However, it’s important to know that hand sanitizer isn’t a replacement for handwashing.

Hand sanitizer kills germs while handwashing physically removes germs. Some bacteria and viruses can’t be killed with hand sanitizer but handwashing will remove 99% of all germs. For this reason, hand sanitizer is perfect for quick hygiene on the go but you should still wash your hands after they’ve touched any contaminated surface.

We keep patients healthy and safe at Allred Family Dentistry.

As your favorite family dental practice, we want you to know that Drs. Allred and their teams take your health and safety very seriously. We follow strict hygiene protocols in our offices and ensure the patients who visit us are healthy and ready for dental care.

You can learn more about our hygiene protocol by giving your preferred location a call or using this online form.