How Long Should I Wash My Hands?

By Staff

You know that you need to wash your hands every time you visit the bathroom, touch raw meat, or dirty your hands in some manner, even if it means touching a doorknob that was wet for some unknown reason.

But how long do you need to wash your hands with soap and water for this to be effective?

That's what we are going to answer in this article.

how long should I wash my hands

20 Seconds Should Do The Trick...

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, you should rub your hands with soap for 20 seconds to effectively remove all the pathogenic microbes. So, if you are guilty of rubbing down your hands for two seconds, washing off and then going your merry way, it's time you spent a few more seconds scrubbing away.

And if you are not sure how long 20 seconds is, try this neat trick: sing "Happy birthday to you" at the regular pace twice in your head...although that might make this annoying song keep looping in your mind for the rest of the day.

But What Do I Have To Do During Those 20 Seconds?

20 seconds can seem long if all you are doing is rubbing your hands back and forth. So here's the correct method of washing hands with soap:-

1. Rub back and forth.

Start by rubbing your palms back and forth against each other and then rub the back of both your hands too. Do this for 5 seconds.

2. Thread your fingers.

Next, interlock your fingers alternatively and then do a pull and push motion to get to the areas between your fingers and the dip in between. Do this for 5 seconds.

3. Scrub your nails.

Nails are a hotbed for germs (pun intended). So scrub your nails on your palms for 2.5 seconds to get rid of these germs. Total time for both hands is 5 seconds.

4. Wash your thumbs.

Your thumbs are the most neglected parts of your hands when you wash them. So, wrap your opposite palm around your thumb and give it a good rub before you switch hands. Do this for 5 seconds total.

Soap vs Hand Sanitizer: Which Is Better?

Unfortunately, your hand sanitizer does not hold a candle next to plain old soap water. So while using a 60% alcohol-content hand sanitizer is a good idea when you are travelling and do not have any water outlet to wash your hands properly, for your day-to-day cleanliness washing your hands with soap and water is the best.

And steer clear of soaps with antibiotics added to them, like triclosan. They are known to cause antibiotic resistance in microbes, which is a big cause for concern in the medical field right now.

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