Mississippi State Department of Health

Handwashing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection.

Our hands bring us into contact every day with disease-causing bacteria and viruses, including those that cause flu. Frequent handwashing can remove or destroy these germs. It's a powerful tool against disease.

How to Wash

Thoroughly washing every part of the hands is essential. A proper handwashing takes at least 20 seconds.

  • Wet your hands under warm running water and apply some soap.
  • Lather up - apply soap and rub your hands together hard to scrub dirt and germs away.
  • Wash hands front and back, and between the fingers.
  • Wash around your wrists and under your nails.
  • Rinse well in warm water.
  • Dry your hands completely with a clean cloth or paper towel.


It's in Your Hands: Handwashing basics for kids and materials for teachers

When to Wash

You should wash your hands before:

  • Handling food
  • Setting the table
  • Eating
  • Treating a scrape, cut, or wound
  • Tending to someone who is sick
  • Putting in or taking out contact lenses

You should wash your hands after:

  • Going to the bathroom
  • Changing diapers
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Preparing food
  • Touching burns, cuts, or sores
  • Playing with pets or animals
  • Playing outside, to reduce exposure to lead in soil and dust
  • Handling dirty dishes, utensils, or touching cabinet tops where food is prepared
  • Being around someone who is sick
  • Taking out the garbage

Why Washing Works

You need all the steps above to make handwashing work its best for you.

Links referenced

Find this page at http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/index.cfm

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