How to Wash Your Hands Thoroughly

Thoroughly washing hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent contamination. Although most people know that they should wash their hands well before handling food, many people don’t follow that safety guideline. Most germs and bacteria are passed from one person to another by hand contact. You shake hands with someone, or someone touches something you eat and — bingo — you wind up getting contaminated.

Wash your hands well for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching and preparing food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets. As logical as this may seem, not everyone takes the time to do so. Sure, people may wash their hands, but is it as thorough as it should be? Probably not. Take the test yourself. Set a kitchen timer for 20 seconds and begin washing your hands immediately. Doesn’t it feel like the longest 20 seconds of your life?

If you don’t have a watch or clock close by, try this technique to ensure you wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds: Sing one slow round of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” which is about 20 seconds long. When you try this for the first few times, watch the clock as you sing so you can recognize the pace that it takes for a full 20 seconds to pass.

Even though you wash your hands before preparing food, you must also wash them well after touching food and before moving on to another food. For example, if you handle raw chicken that has salmonella and then handle salad makings without washing your hands well, you most likely will contaminate the salad and ingest salmonella when you eat it, even though it will be killed off in the chicken when it is done cooking.

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