University of Maryland Extension

Hand Hygiene 101

Follow these top tips to keep your family safe

1.  Wash hands the right way-for 20 seconds with soap and running water.
2.  Wash surfaces and utensils after each use.
3.  Wash fruits and vegetables-but not meat, poultry, or eggs!

 Proper Hand Washing         

Hand washing is the single most important means of avoiding sickness and preventing the spread of disease” (Centers for Disease Control, CDC).

1. Wet hands thoroughly with warm water and add soap.

2. Scrub hands, wrists, fingernails, and in between fingers for at least 20 seconds.
*Adults—sing happy birthday twice.
*Children—sing the ABC song.

3. Rinse, then dry hands with a clean paper towel or cloth towel. Discard the paper towel or discard the cloth towel to be laundered. 

**Ideally the paper towel and cloth towel are used once for each hand drying activity**

  • Be sure to dry hands thoroughly. Wet or damp hands can attract bacteria.
  • Use lotion to moisturize. Dry hands can crack and provide openings for harmful pathogens to enter.


Do hand sanitizers work?

  • Yes. As long as the product is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Apply at least a dimes (or more) amount of product to palm of your hand. 
  • Rub product over entire surface of hands until hands are dry.
  • When using soap or alcohol based gel, be sure to dry hands thoroughly. Moist hands allow bacteria to form and grow.
  • Hand sanitizers may not work as well when your hands are visibly dirty and/or greasy.

Anti-bacterial soaps clean better?                                                                        

  • No. There is no evidence to indicate that antibacterial soap cleans more effectively than plain soap.
  • For that reason, plain soap is recommended in public, non-healthcare settings and in the home unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

  When should you wash your hands?            

Cuts and abrasions

  • 30% of all people have staph bacteria (Staphylococcus aureaus) on their skin and in their nose.  Hands that have cuts and other wounds can release infection. 
  • ALWAYS—clean the wound, wash your hands, cover with a clean dry bandage and use gloves if necessary.


Additional hand washing resources – click the pictures below

Factsheets and Posters

Hand washing- UME

Wash Your Paws, Georgia!

Hand washing/water-related posters – In English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Bengali & Chinese

Hand washing General Posters

Hand washing fact sheet- KSU/barfblog

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