SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, health officials are reminding people that the first defense against the virus is proper handwashing.

One of the first suggestions from doctors is to wash your hands, but do it the right way.

Research from the Journal of Environmental Health suggests that only 5% of people wash their hands properly after using the restroom.

When should I wash my hands?

Stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially now as the coronavirus continues to spread globally.

Here are some key times you should be washing your hands, according to the CDC:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Is there a “right” way to wash my hands?

The CDC says yes.

Research even suggests that 95% of people don’t wash their hands correctly after leaving the restroom.

Here are the CDC’s guidelines on proper handwashing:

Step 1

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). Then, turn off the tap and soap up your hands.

Step 2

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Make sure to soap up the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Step 3

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you need a timer, sing (or hum) the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end, two times.

Step 4

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Step 5

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them (or even both!)

According to the CDC, wet hands easily transfer viruses, so best make sure they’re completely dry to lessen the risk.

What’s the deal with hand sanitizer?

Health officials say the best way to get rid of germs is to wash your hands with soap and water.

However, if soap and water are not available to you, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

All you have to do is look at the product’s label to see the alcohol percentage.

Keep in mind the following tips from the CDC on hand sanitizer:

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

How should I use hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer is relatively simple – apply the gel product to the palm of one of your hands, then rub your hands together.

Make sure you rub the gel all over the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. The whole process should take about 20 seconds, according to the CDC.

While hand sanitizer is convenient, health officials want to remind you that hand sanitizer should not be a replacement for washing your hands.

Better than nothing, though!

Latest Stories: