Safety Tip: Wash Those Hands!

by in Food Safety, September 18, 2009

Washing your hands when you cook, after using the restroom and just in general can keep germs from spreading. Seems simple enough, but many folks don’t do it or do it properly. Here are some hand-washing basics. Read them!

How To Wash Your Hands
It’s not hard, we promise. Just follow these five basic steps:

  1. Wet your hands. Turn on the water to as hot as you can stand it and wet your hands.
  2. Apply soap. Many folks like to apply soap first and then wash it away when they turn on the water. Soap needs to be used on wet hands to work. You’ll be able to see suds if you’re doing it right.
  3. Rub your hands together. Make sure to scrub between your fingers and up your forearm. Some people teach their kids to sing “happy birthday” twice, which covers the recommended, 20-second lathering and scrubbing time.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Dry your hands. No, not on the kitchen towel you use to dry dishes, carry hot plates or clean off the counter! Do that and you’ll dirty your clean hands again. Dry hands on a designated hand towel or use a paper towel.

When To Wash Your Hands
If you’re preparing food, you need to wash your hands properly every time you come in contact with and potentially contaminate them. Remember: you’re hands are your number one kitchen tool and you need to make sure they are clean at all times. Here are some situations when you definitely need to wash those hands:

  • After using the restroom (many folks forget!)
  • After touching raw foods like meat, eggs, fish
  • After talking on the phone
  • After taking a break
  • After sneezing, coughing or scratching yourself (even brushing your hair away)
  • Before and after eating

What About Hand Sanitizers?
Lots of stores sell clear liquid that you can apply to your hands to help reduce bacteria. These hand sanitizers are not meant to replace hand washing. However, you can use them after washing your hands or in a pinch (say, at a picnic with no bathroom nearby). I often use them after I get off the subway or in my car on the way home from work. You don’t want to use hand sanitizers every minute of the day — no more than 8 to 10 times daily is suggested. If you overuse the sanitizer, bacteria can remain on your hands and won’t be killed.

For more info on hand washing, check out this informative CDC video or have your kids watch this PBS Kids video explaining how germs get around.

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Comments (7)

  1. Gues says:

    If you're worried about swine flu germs and your kids, my child came home from school the other day saying that they learned to cough and sneeze into their elbow with Germy Wormie, and I was totally taken aback. I always covered with my hands. But I went to the website and now I get it, hands touch, elbows don't!! Kids can touch 300 surfaces in 1/2 hour and they hate to wash their hands. This is a simple thing that can make a huge difference.

  2. MomofFour says:

    I like the concept of coughing into your elbow but have you ever seen a child do it that way? They often miss because they cover their eyes and nose and not their mouths and the sneeze just goes right under their arms and out into the air. My boys now sneeze and cough into their shirts by pulling their collars up around their faces; and now, so do we. the only drawback I've found is that I sometimes get a cold spray of fluid on my chest if I don't aim at the inside of my blouse correctly.

  3. im_pinoy says:

    Just always bring alcohol with you.. Additional point .. There's a right way/steps on how to wash your hands correctly step by step . .

  4. peruke says:

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to return the favor?I’m trying to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  5. golfclubs9 says:

    Although I genuinely like this post, I think there was an punctuational error close to the finish from the 3rd paragraph.

  6. golfclubs9 says:

    Although I genuinely like this post, I think there was an punctuational error close to the finish from the 3rd paragraph.

  7. Watson says:

    We cough or sneeze just below our shoulder, fore arm. I can not get my elbow to my nose or mouth. If I have to use my hands I go to wash as discribed above.

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