Wash Your Hands to Keep Germs Away

Woman washing her hands

You can help keep yourself and other people from getting sick by doing something really simple — just wash your hands. Hand washing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep those viruses — those cold and flu germs — away.

When you wash your hands, you wash away germs. Germs are what make you sick. You pick up germs from other people or contaminated surfaces or even animals. If you don’t wash your hands and you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, germs can get into your body and make you sick.

You can also make other people sick by not washing your hands. When you have dirty hands, you can spread germs to other people by either touching them directly or by touching a surface. When another person touches that surface that you left your germs on, they can pick up your germs and get sick.

Watch Spread the Word, not the Germ! video

View or print the Spread the Word about Handwashing Not the Germ coloring book.

When you should wash your hands

  • After sneezing or coughing to prevent spreading germs.
  • After touching things outside.
  • After going to the bathroom.
  • After petting or playing with an animal.
  • Before you eat.
  • Before you prepare food.

When you don’t have access to soap and water, you should wash your hands using an alcohol-based gel or foam to kill germs. Theses products can be bought at any drug store or grocery store.

It takes at least 15 seconds to wash your hands properly.

How to properly wash your hands

  • Turn on the faucet and wet your hands.
  • Use soap and work up a good lather.
  • Scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, in between your fingers and underneath your fingernails.
  • You need to scrub for at least 15 second to kill all the germs. That’s about how long takes you to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. You can sing while you scrub to make sure you’re doing it right.
  • Then rinse the soap off your hands and dry them with a paper towel.
  • It’s a good idea to turn the faucet off using the towel so that you don’t get any germs from touching the faucet.

So remember, wash your hands for at least 15 seconds before you eat, after using the bathroom, coughing or sneezing, going outside, playing with a pet and before preparing food. Washing your hands can help you, your family and your friends from getting sick.