Did You Wash Your Hands?

— Written By and last updated by

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper handwashing is one of the best ways to keep ourselves and our families from getting sick. When we are not taking the proper steps to wash our hands, we risk spreading germs to ourselves, friends, family, coworkers, and even our community.

There are several instances when we should wash our hands throughout the day. However, some of the key times to wash our hands are before we are eating or preparing food, after using the bathroom, after coughing, sneezing, or blowing our nose, and after coming in contact with someone who is sick.

There are five steps when washing our hands:

  1. Wet your hands using cold or warm water then apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
  3. Scrub your hands for 20 seconds, at least.
  4. Rinse your hands.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or let them air dry.

So, what about hand sanitizer? While washing our hands with soap and water is the better option, hand sanitizer can also be used to reduce the number of germs. The hand sanitizer should be alcohol-based and contain at least 60% alcohol. You can find this information out by reading the label on the product.

While teaching Steps to Health programs I often stress the importance of washing your hands, especially to elementary-age students. A tool we use to show students how important it is to wash their hands properly is Glo Germ. This is a lotion that can be seen under ultra-violet light. After it is applied to hands and shown under the light the students see how many “germs” are on their hands. Then, they wash their hands using soap and water and return their hands under the ultra-violet light. The students see that if they did not use the five steps there can be “germs” left on their hands and especially around their fingers, nails, and wrists.

Glo Germ can be purchased online at glogerm.com The FCS program and Steps to Health program can also provide this demonstration and other health and nutrition programs at your school or community center. Please contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Sampson County office if interested. 


CDC, 2019