Healthy Choices

How to wash your hands correctly to avoid illness

It turns out there’s a right and a wrong way to wash one’s hands, says Sacramento County Public Health Nurse Kate McAuley. Unfortunately, most people do it the wrong way. They simply don’t spend enough time on the task.

For people who dab on soap, rub and dash, it may come as a surprise to learn they are not doing enough to clean their hands.

“It’s really important to thoroughly wash our hands as we go about our day. We pick up a lot of bacteria, viruses and dirt,” said McAuley, who is the county’s immunization program coordinator and interim director of public health nursing. “A quick rinse will not do the job. You need to take the time to wash the back of your hands, your palm and your fingers.”

This is especially true during the holiday season when people are eating lots of finger foods, and shopping in public places where doorknobs and escalator railings might be contaminated.

Trying this simple tip will get you as clean as McAuley wants you to be: Singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice over and while washing your hands for the duration. This will result in a hand-washing that banishes all those germs down the drain.

And given that this is the time of the year that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the importance of hand-washing, the CDC is offering a poster to download that say “Keep Cool and Wash Your Hands” or in Spanish, “Mantenga la Calma y Lávese Las Manos.”