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The Power of Handwashing

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The Power of Handwashing

Your hands are incredible, versatile tools gifted to very few species. They are unique, strong and make everyday life easier. These amazing appendages are also germ-infested and often give us the viruses and bacteria that cause us to become ill. Keeping them squeaky clean and away from your nose, mouth and eyes can be the difference between going about your regular routine or being trapped in bed coughing and sneezing.

Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections. You might be thinking, “I wash my hands every day, I don’t need a reminder, “ but the average number of times people wash their hands a day is fewer than nine times a day. That may seem like a lot of handwashing but when you factor in how many surfaces we touch daily and how often you should be washing your hands, that number is very low.

On average you should be washing your hands at these key times to deter the spread of germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food

  • Before and after eating food

  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea

  • Before and after treating a cut or wound

  • After using the toilet

  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

  • After handling pet food or pet treats

  • After touching garbage


Not only can washing your hands at these key times and any other moment it may seem necessary keep you safe from germs, it will also keep those same germs from spreading to others around you. Though hand washing is not rocket science or brain surgery, there is science behind washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. The CDC explains the science behind the age-old hand washing rules:


Running water and soap

Because hands could become recontaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used. Using soap to wash hands is more effective than using water alone because the surfactants in soap lift soil and microbes from skin, and people tend to scrub hands more thoroughly when using soap, which further removes germs (Keeping Hands Clean | CDC, 2022).

Lather and scrub

Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed (Keeping Hands Clean | CDC, 2022).


20 Seconds or more

The optimal length of time for handwashing is also likely to depend on many factors, including the type and amount of soil on the hands and the setting of the person washing hands. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that washing hands for about 15-30 seconds removes more germs from hands than washing for shorter periods (Keeping Hands Clean | CDC, 2022).


Dry with a clean towel

Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands; therefore, hands should be dried after washing (Keeping Hands Clean | CDC, 2022).

At Campbell County Health, your family's health is our number one priority. Proper hand washing guidelines are just a small representation of the information and techniques that our healthcare providers have to offer. Our Primary Care and Family Medicine providers will help you, and your family practice healthy habits for daily life as well as encourage wellness visits. Our goal is to serve our community by providing a lifetime of care with dedication, skill and compassion.

For more information or to book your appointment visit us online at:


Keeping Hands Clean | CDC. (2022, July 14).

Survey Reveals Handwashing Habits of Americans. (2021, May 18). Puronics.