Hand Washing 101

There's one thing we all need to do to keep the flu away, and it's simple: washing your hands, and doing it often! In fact, medical professionals say it's the first line of defense in keeping healthy.

Posted: Feb 7, 2018 4:49 PM
Updated: Feb 7, 2018 6:49 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - There's one thing we all need to do to keep the flu away, and it's simple: washing your hands, and doing it often! In fact, medical professionals say it's the first line of defense in keeping healthy.


So how do you know you’re doing it right?

Medical professionals say washing your hands is the first line of defense in keeping healthy. (WTHI Photo, John Timm)

News 10 spoke with Terre Haute Regional Hospital Infection Preventionist Myrna Dienhart.

She says the first step in good handwashing is to get a good lather with soap. Dienhart says to hit all surfaces of your hands and wrists, front and back, for 20 seconds. You can even hum a song to pass the time.

She says to rinse with your hands pointed down, so the germs are washed away. Then, turn off the faucet with a paper towel. Dienhart says forgetting to do so is a common flub.

Dienhart says, "When you turn off the water you want to use a piece of paper towel to not touch that dirty handle after you've washed your hands because the handle is dirty."

Dienhart adds that needing to use a special soap when you wash is a myth. She says, "You'll find some areas like in the hospital we might use anti-microbial soap. But it's not really necessary. The whole idea behind soap and water wash is that mechanical, actually removing any micro-organisms."

Another common "handwashing myth" is needing to wash with scalding hot water, that's false. Dienhart says all that will do is dry out your hands and cause cracking.

Dienhart also says it's okay to use hand sanitizer, especially if you’re out and about. She says to look for 60% alcohol gel and higher. She says those are great to kill germs. But again, she says don't sell handwashing short! She stresses that process washes the germs away.

If you're needing more information this time of year for containing the flu, other diseases in your home, or just making sure you're cleaning well enough, click here.

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