Learn How to Properly Wash Your Hands | UPMC

Your hands play a big part in the transmission of bacteria and viruses, so proper hand hygiene is one way we can all work to prevent the spread of illness

When it comes to cleaning your hands, you have two effective options: Handwashing and hand sanitizer. But which choice is best?

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Proper Hand Hygiene: Handwashing 101

The best, most effective way to clean your hands is by handwashing with soap and water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With handwashing, technique is key. You should run your hands under clean water, apply soap, and rub your hands together for a minimum of 20 seconds. Make sure to get in between your fingers, the backs of your hands, and under your fingernails.

Want a trick? Try singing the ABCs from start to finish before you rinse your hands. When you’re done, you can either use a clean towel or air dry your hands.

Proper Hand Hygiene: Hand Sanitizer 101

If you do not have access to soap and clean, running water, hand sanitizer is a great alternative. When selecting a hand sanitizer, be sure that it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Non-alcohol based and sanitizers with less than 60 percent alcohol concentration have proven to be less effective at killing germs.

When applying hand sanitizer, use at least a half of a teaspoon, or enough that it takes about 20 seconds for your hands to dry while rubbing them. It is also important to note that hand sanitizers do not kill all types germs.

Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer

When you have the option, handwashing should always be your first choice. Although both handwashing and hand sanitizer are great methods to keep your hands clean, it is important to keep in mind that hand sanitizer is not a replacement for soap and water, but rather, an alternative if you do not have the resources to wash your hands.


Editor's Note: This video was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

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