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You’ve Probably Been Washing Your Hands The Wrong Way This Whole Time

This story originally appeared at Do You Remember by Jane Kenney.

Washing your hands is something that we all do, whether we’re finishing up in the restroom or washing up before a meal. However, studies show that 95% of Americans actually wash their hands the wrong way. Michigan State University reports that only 5% of Americans actually wash their hands correctly. So, what exactly is the right way?

Especially during this time of year when the cold and flu are running wild, it’s more important now than ever to learn the right way. Forbes reports that the average person touches their face anywhere from 15 to 23 times per hour. Additionally, the average person only washes their hands 10 times per day. This means there’s a pretty wide opening for harmful bacteria and viruses to make their way into your system. Here are the best tips on how to wash your hands properly.

You’ve probably been washing your hands the wrong way- here’s how to do it right

person washing their hands with soap

Washing hands / AFMC

Here are the proper steps to washing your hands as provided by Forbes:

STEP 1: Thoroughly wet your hands with clean, running water. Then turn off the tap and apply soap.

STEP 2: Lather all parts of your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Don’t miss any spots. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

STEP 3: Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Darting in and out doesn’t cut it. Need a timer to know how long 20 seconds is? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

STEP 4: Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

STEP 5: Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Paper towels are recommended because of the act of wiping away germs.”

Other steps you can try to stave off harmful bacteria

While washing your hands sounds fairly simple and easy, many people don’t coat their hands in soap long enough to effectively kill harmful germs. It’s very important to wash thoroughly with soap and water for the proper amount of time in order to kill off bacteria. So, what else can you do to help stave off these nasty germs?

person drying their hands with paper towels

Drying hands / Housekeeping – WonderHowTo

For starters, we all need to be better about not touching our faces. It’s a hard habit to break, but that’s the first and probably biggest step towards staving off germs. Additionally, hand sanitizer definitely helps, but it’s not as efficient as soap and water. Wet wipes are also a good alternative if you’re on the go.

Lastly, be sure to always wash your hands before doing things like preparing food. Also wash your hands after doing things like using the restroom, coughing/sneezing, or touching an animal.

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