Proper Hand Washing for Illness Prevention

The power of hand hygiene was discovered over 150 years ago by a physician working in a maternity ward. Today, it's still our most powerful tool against spreading and contracting illness.
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Perfect your technique

  • Wet hands thoroughly, add a squirt of soap, and lather every part of both hands
  • Rub your hands together for 15-20 seconds — or the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice
  • Rinse hands under running water
  • Dry hands using a paper towel or air dryer
  • Use the paper towel or the back of your hand to turn off the faucet


Know when to wash

  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • After using the restroom
  • After handling animals


Hand washing — it works!

After being touched by an infected person, surfaces like doorknobs and desks can spread cold and flu viruses for up to 8 hours. Restrooms, stores and other public spaces are bacteria and virus breeding grounds. But by properly washing your hands, you can prevent infection from every type of flu — and even the common cold. For maximum protection, be sure to wash your hands in the right way, and at the right times.


Create a hygiene habit

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. If germs from your hands come into contact with your mucous membranes, you can become infected with any cold or flu viruses you've unknowingly been carrying.
  • Teach children proper hand-washing techniques. According to the CDC, young children are at higher risk of flu-related complications; and they spread and catch illness especially easily.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you during cold and flu season in case soap and water are unavailable. Hand sanitizers are fast-acting, portable and proven effective at reducing the number of germs on your skin; choose one with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Soaps labeled as "antibacterial" are no more effective than ordinary soap — and according to the National Institutes of Health, they may breed antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.


Suggested hand care products, in assorted varieties and scents

  • Top Care® Foaming Hand Soap
  • Top Care Antibacterial Hand Soap
  • Top Care Hand Sanitizer
  • Top Care 40-oz. Antibacterial Soap Refills
  • Top Care Moisturizing Lotion

Important Physician Advice Disclaimer: The content provided by Giant Eagle®, including but not limited to, web site, recipe and health information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician for professional guidance before changing or undertaking a new diet program. Advance consultation with your physician is particularly important if you are under the age of 18, pregnant, nursing or have health problems.