Best Flu Prevention Advice: Wash Your Hands!

Is all this “Flu Talk” making you sick? Well, as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So if you have been watching the news or just listening to your friends and family sniffle around you, wondering if the next strain of the latest whatever virus is coming your way – take precautions and start washing your hands.

That’s right; experts indicate we can never underestimate the power of hand washing as an effective way to avoid illness. Sounds simple, but hand washing and hand sanitizing prevent the spread of airborne respiratory disease that get on human hands and everything we touch.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

According to the CDC, knowing when to clean your hands and which method to use will give you the best chance of preventing sickness.

Soap and Water
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After touching garbage
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After using the bathroom, changing diapers, or cleaning up a child who has used the bathroom
  • After touching an animal, animal food or treats, animal cages, or animal waste
Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer
  • Before and after visiting a friend or a loved one in a hospital or nursing home, unless the person is sick with Clostridium difficile (if so, use soap and water to wash hands). 
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and wash with soap and water as soon as you can.
  • Do NOT use hand sanitizer if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy: for example, after gardening, playing outdoors, or after fishing or camping (unless a handwashing station is not available). Wash your hands with soap and water instead.

How Should You Wash Your Hands?

Soap and Water
  1. Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
  3. Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the palms, backs, fingers, between your fingers, and under your nails. Keep scrubbing for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and childcare facilities.

  1. Apply. Put enough product on hands to cover all surfaces.
  2. Rub hands together, until hands feel dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Note: Do not rinse or wipe off the hand sanitizer before it’s dry; it may not work as well against germs.

For more tips and tricks on handwashing or additional information, visit the CDC handwashing website, www.cdc.gov/handwashing.