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May 4, 2020

How to Properly Wash Your Hands to Help Beat COVID-19

dentist in Ann Arbor washing their hands

The number one way to avoid the spread of COVID-19 isn’t by wearing masks or staying home. Although those things help, the best way to prevent contracting the virus is by regularly washing your hands. But just how often should you wash your hands? What is the ideal handwashing technique? Keep reading as a dentist in Ann Arbor answers these questions and more.

How to Properly Wash Your Hands

The proper handwashing technique has five steps:

  1. Wet. Put your hands under clean, running water.
  2. Lather. Apply a liberal amount of soap to the inside and back of your hands and lather it up for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to get under your fingernails and jewelry, as well as the fingertips.
  3. Scrub. Rub both hands together and move your fingertips around both hands. You don’t need to do so too harshly; gentle pressure is fine.
  4. Rinse. Wash away the soap by placing your hands under the running water.
  5. Dry. Using a disposable paper towel is best because germs can linger on a cloth towel. Air dryers in public restrooms are also effective.

When Do You Need to Wash Your Hands?

Handwashing is always important, but especially so during a pandemic. Remember to wash your hands in the following situations:

  • After returning from a public outing, such as a trip to the grocery store
  • Before leaving the bathroom, whether you’re out or at home
  • After shaking hands or even accidentally making physical contact with another person
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who has any kind of physical illness
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
  • After touching garbage
  • After putting on your shoes, as shoes can transmit germs
  • After using public computers, touching public countertops or tables, cash, other people’s phones, etc.

When Should I Use Hand Sanitizer?

Cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer (which contains at least 60% alcohol) is a great way to keep your hands clean and kill any germs that may be present on them. However, washing your hands with soap and water is always best. When you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative. Use it whenever you would normally wash your hands, such as before eating, when soap and water aren’t available. Apply a generous dollop of sanitizer to your palms and rub it into all surfaces of your hands.

Washing your hands is the best way to rid your hands of germs that, if not rinsed away, could enter your body, and infect you. Follow the guidelines written out in this post and you should be good to go.

About the Author

Dr. James Olsen is a 1988 graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. He regularly takes more than 100 hours of continuing education courses a year to hone his dental skills. His practice implements several safety measures to keep his patients as healthy and germ-free as possible. To learn more examples of dental safety protocol in Ann Arbor, visit Dr. Olsen’s office.

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