Skip to main content.

Hand Washing Do's and Don'ts

Posted January 13, 2020 by Nancy Reynolds, MSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC


One of the best and most effective ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others is by washing your hands properly and often. It doesn’t take much time or effort and offers a very effective means of preventing the spread of illnesses ranging from viruses like cold and flu to other bacteria or viruses. As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you gather germs on your hands. You can infect yourself with these germs by touching your face; especially your eyes, nose or mouth, or you can spread the germs to others. By making handwashing a habit, you can do your part in protecting the health of yourself and your family.


Here are some simple do’s and don’ts of hand washing:

When to wash your hands:

  • Before preparing food or eating
  • Treating wounds or caring for sick people
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses
  • After using the toilet, changing a diaper, or helping someone use the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Handling garbage
  • Touching animals, animal food, or animal waste


  • Wet your hands thoroughly under clean running water, either warm or cold.
  • Apply mild soap to hands and work into a lather, rubbing for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover the surface of your hands, including the front and back, the wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
  • Rinse your hands well.
  • Dry hands thoroughly with an air dryer or clean paper towel.


  • Use hot water to wash hands. It tends to promote chapping which can make hands more susceptible to bacteria.
  • Run water over hands when lathering.
  • Touch the sink surface after washing hands.
  • Skip handwashing if you don’t have soap and water. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a replacement.

Washing your hands is a simple way to help you stay healthy. If you have questions, talk to your Summa Health primary care physician or visit our Summa Health Flourish blog for more wellness tips.


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.