Hand washing is the first step of good food safety and personal hygiene. Because we interact with the world using our hands, they pick up a lot of germs along the way. You can spread these germs to other surfaces (like a door handle or your phone) and to other people (shaking hands, picking up your kids, or sharing pens). Washing your hands kills those germs and keeps you and your family from getting sick. Yet most people aren’t washing their hands long enough or often enough.
How to Wash
- Wet hands under warm running water.
- Lather hands with soap and rub together for 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday two times through). Make sure to wash the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Rinse well under warm running water.
- Dry hands thoroughly with a clean towel or air dry them.
When to Wash
- Anytime they are visibly dirty or sticky
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for a sick person
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the restroom or changing a diaper
- After touching raw meat or poultry (yes, even at the grocery store!)
- After coughing, blowing your nose, or sneezing
- After touching your eyes, hair, or face (while cooking)
- After touching an animal, their food, or their waste
- After touching garbage or trash cans
- After smoking
Handwashing keeps germs like norovirus from spreading to your food or germs like salmonella from spreading from your food to your body. No one likes to get sick, so do your part and wash your hands!