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Handwashing Helps Prevent Spread of Infection

Handwashing Helps Prevent Spread of Infection

Handwashing is the single most important measure to prevent the spread of infection.

When washing hands with soap and water:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
  • Use warm water if it is available.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer?
  • Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice through to a friend!
  • Rinse hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

REMEMBER: If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

When using an alcohol based hand sanitizer:

  • Apply product to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub hands together.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before preparing or eating food.
  • After going to the bathroom.
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone
  • to the bathroom.
  • Before and after tending to someone who is sick.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • After handling an animal or animal waste.
  • After handling garbage.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.


For more information on preventing the spread of infection, including Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), read MRSA: What You Should Know.