Hand Washing

Reviewed by Eleese Cunningham, RDN
clean hands in white sink

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Did you know that proper hand washing may eliminate a large percentage of food poisoning cases and significantly reduce the spread of the common cold and flu?

Don't miss out on these potential health benefits, scrub up today keeping these tips in mind:

How to Wash

  • Wet hands with running water and apply soap. Always wash your hands front and back up to your wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
  • Sing two choruses of "Happy Birthday" while you lather up — cleaning your hands for 20 seconds.
  • Hands should be washed in warm, soapy water before preparing foods and after handling raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Never forget to wash your hands after switching tasks, such as handling raw meat and then cutting vegetables.
  • Dry hands with disposable paper towels, clean cloth towels or air dry.

When to Wash


Before You... After You...
  • Handle or prepare food
  • Eat meals
  • Feed children
  • Prepare food
  • Touch raw food, especially meats
  • Switch food preparation tasks
  • Touch eggs and egg-rich foods
  • Use the restroom
  • Change a diaper
  • Cough or sneeze
  • Handle garbage, dirty dishes
  • Smoke a cigarette
  • Pet animals
  • Use the phone
  • Touch face, hair, body, other people
  • Touch a cut or sore
  • Clean or touch dirty laundry

Download: Teach Your Kids With the Hand Washing Maze!

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