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We all learned the importance of washing our hands when we were kids. Plenty of us may have even memorized songs about it. But it’s all too easy to forget about handwashing when we get older. After all, our hands couldn’t be that dirty, right?

If you’ve found yourself slipping out of the handwashing habit as an adult, it’s time to rebuild that habit. The world is full of bacteria and dirt that can make you sick if you don’t take the time to wash it off. As the medical community wraps up National Handwashing Awareness Week, let’s take a look at why this simple ritual can save lives.

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Why Should You Wash Your Hands?

To put it simply, you should wash your hands because it prevents germs that cause disease and even life-threatening illnesses. By washing your hands, you’re preventing germs from spreading from your hands to someone else, and you’re washing off any germs that might have come in contact with your hands.

Pro Tip: Stay happy and healthy by practicing preventive health habits like washing your hands and keeping your surroundings sanitized. 

How to Wash Your Hands

Make sure you’re washing your hands correctly before and after eating, before, during, and after preparing food and after sneezing or coughing into your hand. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these five steps towards clean hands:

  1. Wet your hands with soap and clean water.
  2. Lather with soap on your hands between your fingers.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. 
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Is Hand Sanitizer Okay?

While hand sanitizer doesn’t work quite as well as washing your hands does, it is a solid form of infection prevention in times of need. If soap and water aren’t nearby, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Prevent the Spread of Disease

The simple act of washing your hands prevents bacteria and grime on your hands from being passed on to someone else, potentially making them sick. While this method isn’t foolproof, it’s a remarkably effective way to prevent the spread of germs. You’re protecting more than just your own health when you take the extra minute to maintain good hand hygiene.

Join the conversation to learn more about staying healthy through the simple act of keeping your hands clean.