Chances are you have been washing your own hands for quite a while. All it takes is a little soap and some water, right? Actually, there is a bit more to hand washing. Find out how to wash your hands correctly and why it matters so much.

The single most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick and to stop the spread of disease-causing germs is to wash your hands often. By frequently washing your hands, you wash away germs that you may have picked up from other people or from contaminated surfaces. One of the most common ways people catch colds and the flu is by rubbing their noses or eyes after their hands have been contaminated with the cold or flu virus. More frequent hand washing may be able to reduce the spread of the these viruses. Some studies show that when children are taught to carefully wash their hands school absenteeism is reduced, even more so when alcohol-based hand rubs are combined with hand washing.

You cannot see germs with the naked eye, so wash your hands often. Especially important times include:

  • When your hands are dirty
  • Before, during, and after you prepare food
  • Before you eat
  • After you use the bathroom
  • After you change a diaper
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • After taking out the trash
  • After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • When caring for someone who is sick