You probably think everyone washes their hands — it’s common sense, right? Surprisingly, just 75% of adult females and 58% of adult males wash their hands appropriately, according to a 2006 study cited by the Minnesota Department of Health. Perhaps not surprisingly, among grade schoolers just 33% of girls and 8% of boys soaped up. During cold and flu season it’s particularly important to help prevent the spread of germs. The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands:
- Before and after preparing food or eating
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning a child who’s used the toilet
- Before and after tending to someone who’s sick
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling an animal or animal waste
- After handling garbage
- Before and after treating a cut or wound.
And don’t forget proper technique:
- Wet your hands with clean, very warm water and apply soap
- Rub your hands together and clean all surfaces
- Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds
- Rinse hands thoroughly under running water
- Dry your hands (use a paper towel when turning off a faucet and touching the door handle of public restrooms)
- If soap and water are unavailable, alcohol–based hand sanitizers will kill most germs.