Don’t make these mistakes when you wash your hands

Washing your hands may seem simple, but really getting them clean requires some special attention. It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re washing, and doing so can have some serious consequences, including the flu. Don’t let hand washing errors turn into an illness for you. Avoid these mistakes to get the maximum benefits from washing your hands and to reduce the chances of needing a trip to the hospital .

Mistake: Not washing your hands at the right times.
If you’re only washing your hands a few times per day, you may be doing it wrong. There are actually a multitude of occasions that call for clean hands. Here is when you should head for the sink to wash up:

  • After using the restroom
  • After changing a diaper
  • After you take out the trash
  • After you blow your nose
  • After sneezing or coughing into your hands
  • Before and after taking care of someone who is ill
  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before you eat
  • Before and after you clean a wound

As a rule of thumb, wash your hands after you come into contact with potential germs and before you do anything that would allow you to transfer germs to others.

Mistake: Rushing through the washing process
Dipping your hands under some water is not the same thing as really washing your hands. The scrubbing alone should take at least 20 seconds—long enough to sing Happy Birthday twice. These are the steps that should be involved in washing your hands:

  • Wet your hands.
  • Lather them all over with soap.
  • Scrub for 20 seconds.
  • Rinse them thoroughly.
  • Dry them with a clean towel. Air drying is also fine.

Mistake: Avoiding hand sanitizer when you can’t wash
When a sink is not available, don’t skip cleaning your hands. Instead, use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is not as effective as washing your hands, but it is a good stopgap measure.

The hand sanitizer you use should be at least 60% alcohol to effectively kill germs. Apply it to your hands and rub it into your skin until it is dry.

Washing your hands can help you avoid illness and the need to visit the emergency room or your physician for care. If you do get sick, Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks is here to help. You can get a referral to one of our doctors by calling (877) 888-5746.

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