This information has been reviewed and approved by Infection Preventionist, LeeAnn Bryant, MHS, RN, CIC (September 2017).
Summary: Stop Those Germs!
You can get sick from getting germs on your hands and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. One of the best ways to protect yourself from serious infections is to clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.
When to Clean Your Hands?
- Before touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Before preparing food and eating
- After using or helping someone in the restroom, and changing diapers
- Before and after changing bandages
- After blowing your nose, coughing and sneezing
- After handling garbage, animals, animal food and animal waste
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
Cleaning with Soap and Water
- Wet your hands with clean water.
- Lather your hands with soap, including the backs, under nails and between fingers.
- Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds, long enough to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice.
- Rinse hands thoroughly.
- Dry hands with a clean towel or air dry.
Germs in Health Care Settings
Preventing the spread of germs is especially important in hospitals and other health care settings. Wearing gloves is not enough; hands must be clean.
- Clean your own hands often and ask others to do the same.
- If you don’t see a health care worker clean his or her hands, you may ask the provider to wash in front of you.
Using Hand Sanitizer
- Use sanitizer that’s at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Rub product on hands, fingertips, thumbs, back of hands and between fingers.
- Continue rubbing hands until hands feel dry (about 20 seconds).
20 seconds —how long it takes to scrub your hands correctly
5% of hand washers scrub with soap for 15 seconds or more
1 in 5 people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom
100 MPH -- how fast germs move during a sneeze
1 trillion — the number of germs that can be in one gram of human feces (poop)