Follow five simple and effective handwashing steps: Wet, Soap, Scrub, Rinse, Dry to reduce the spread of illness and help stay healthy. To prevent the spread of germs during cold and flu season, you should also wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds:
- Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before and after eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After leaving a public place
- After touching objects or surfaces that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands.
This list of key times to wash hands was developed based on data from a number of studies. There may be other key times when it is important to your wash hands.