How to Wash Hands Properly: A Step-by-Step Guide

Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and others from germs and illnesses. Proper handwashing can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, such as the flu, colds, and COVID-19. But do you know how to wash your hands properly?

Why is Handwashing Important?

Germs are everywhere, and they can easily spread from person to person or through objects and surfaces. Handwashing is a simple and effective way to reduce the spread of germs and infections.

When you wash your hands with soap and water, you remove dirt, oils, and germs from your skin. Soap loosens and lifts dirt and germs from your skin, while water washes them away.

Proper handwashing can also help protect you from getting sick. Germs can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you touch your face with dirty hands, you can transfer germs to these areas and get sick.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

You should wash your hands:

  • Before eating or preparing food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling garbage
  • After touching something that may be contaminated, such as a doorknob or shopping cart

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

Follow these steps to wash your hands properly:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together to make a lather. Be sure to scrub all surfaces of your hands, including your palms, backs of your hands, fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

It’s important to use clean, running water when washing your hands. Standing water can contain germs and bacteria, and using it to wash your hands can spread more germs on your skin.

When drying your hands, use a clean towel or air dry them. Germs can spread more easily on wet hands, so it’s important to dry them thoroughly.

What About Hand Sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer can be used as an alternative to handwashing when soap and water are not available. However, hand sanitizers are not as effective as handwashing at removing dirt, oils, and certain types of germs.

When using hand sanitizer, make sure to use enough to cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they are dry.


Proper handwashing is a simple and effective way to protect yourself and others from germs and infections. By following these steps, you can help prevent the spread of diseases and stay healthy.

Related VideoHow to Wash Hands Properly: A Step-by-Step Guide