Handwashing is an important step to prevent illnesses

Practice proper handwashing throughout the day to help prevent illnesses.

In the fight against germs, we each have 10 secret weapons: Our fingers. Keeping your fingers and hands clean by frequent and proper handwashing can be a key to reducing your risk of becoming sick. Keeping your own hands clean is also a way to reduce the chances that others will become ill.

Michigan State University Extension recommends washing your hands frequently throughout the day. By frequently washing your hands, the risk presented by bacteria, germs and viruses can be greatly reduced. Handwashing can also be a defense against the cold and influenza. These can be picked up from other people, touching contaminated surfaces, animals or bodily waste. By not washing these germs from your hands, you can become infected by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Touching other objects without first washing increases the risk that others will become ill.

Hand sanitizer, while sometimes more convenient than soap and water, may not eliminate all of the germs that could be hiding on your skin. While hand sanitizer is effective in reducing some bacteria’s pathogens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that washing hands with soap and water may do the best job of removing foodborne pathogens and other bad bugs that can lead to illness.

Take extra precaution when using public restrooms. To properly wash your hands, tear off a section of paper towel for turning off the faucet when you are done washing – this prevents re-contaminating your hands when re-touching the faucet.

Wash hands with water and soap for 20 seconds. Wash between the fingers, under nails and in any crevices where bacteria or germs may be hiding. Dry hands with a paper towel and use a paper towel when re-touching the bathroom door handle to exit.

It is important to wash your hands:

  • Before eating and during and after handling food
  • After handling uncooked eggs, raw meat, poultry, seafood or their juices
  • After using the bathroom or changing diapers
  • Sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing
  • Touching a cut or open sore
  • After touching garbage
  • Especially for children – after playing outside, with pets or shared toys

For more information on the importance of handwashing visit Foodsafety.gov. The site contains a video showing proper cleaning techniques not only for hands but other surfaces in your kitchen.

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