How to Properly Wash Your Hands

Lathered hands clasped together over dark wash basin with a trickle of water coming from aboveThere are few good things to be said for the COVID-19 pandemic, but the effort to slow the spread of this serious and highly contagious illness has put the spotlight on simple disease prevention measures like handwashing. Frequent handwashing—especially if you know how to properly wash your hands—is a great way to prevent the spread of many respiratory and digestive tract infections. In fact, many health experts have theorized that the flu has been far less widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic because of viral infection prevention methods that included social distancing, mask wearing, and – yes – handwashing.

Even before the pandemic, most of us were probably taught to wash our hands before meals and after going to the bathroom. This is because touching a contaminated surface and then putting our hands to our mouth, nose, or eyes is one of the most common ways to spread germs. However, if you’re like most people, you probably never really got a tutorial in how to wash your hands properly. After all, how hard can it be? You just stick your hands under running water, dab them with soap, and then rinse, right? Wrong! Failure to wash your hands thoroughly can leave you and those you come in contact with vulnerable to germs that inadequate hygiene habits failed to dislodge.

Springfield Urgent Care is pleased to provide you with the following handwashing tips, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

5 Steps to Truly Clean Hands

  1. The first step in proper handwashing is to use clean, running water from the faucet. Standing water in a basin could be contaminated by previous use. Although it’s generally better to wash your hands in standing water than to forgo handwashing, it’s best to use fresh water from the tap.
  2. After wetting your hands with clean water, add enough soap to work up a good lather and scrub all areas of your hands, including fingertips and nails, the skin between the fingers, and the backs of your hands. Remember that the infectious microbes you can’t see are likely to be present on all surfaces of your hands, so you’ll want to be thorough in scrubbing them away.
  3. Next, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice while scrubbing your hands. Experts recommend doing this because it will take about 20 seconds—which is the minimum length of time it takes to do a good job of handwashing.
  4. When you feel certain you’ve thoroughly cleansed all parts of your hands, rinse them with clean, running water.
  5. Use a clean towel or air dryer to dry your hands, as germs can more easily transfer to and from wet hands than dry ones.

Additional Ways to Prevent the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Handwashing is one of the simplest ways to slow the spread of viruses and bacterial infections. For prevention of respiratory illnesses, wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you’re around other people is another effective measure. It may also help you avoid touching those areas of your face, which can reduce the chance that you’ll ingest bacteria from your hands. And, as public health experts have recommended throughout the coronavirus pandemic, staying at least 6 feet away from others will help reduce the chances that you’ll inhale contaminated droplets that become airborne when people sneeze, cough, or even talk to one another.

At Springfield Urgent Care, we not only treat a wide array of non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries, but we also take pride in helping our patients stay healthy. Our walk-in clinics in Clarkston and Highland, Michigan, are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week, including weekends, and we offer flu shots, COVID-19 vaccines, and physical exams. We also offer lab testing that can help identify various infections so our patients can take the appropriate steps to avoid infecting others. For example, we offer on-site testing for:

  • Influenza
  • COVID-19
  • Strep throat
  • Mononucleosis
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

If you’d like more information about the many nonemergency medical services available from Springfield Urgent Care, contact us today.