Hand Washing Tips & Techniques

hand washing sign

While washing your hands before and after certain activities like eating or using the restroom may seem like a given, Berkeley Wellness compiled a series of tips to make sure you’re doing an effective job. Hand washing is the single best preventative method for not getting a cold or other infectious disease. The combination of soap, water, and friction breaks up dirt and creates a slippery slope for germs to slide off upon.

How long should you wash your hands each time?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you rub your hands together under soap and water for twenty seconds; reaching all surfaces of your palms, fingers, and tops of both hands. The World Health Organization says the whole process of washing and drying should take 40 to 60 seconds.

What should the water temperature be?

According to Berkeley Wellness, there is little research on this topic, however two studies point towards the insignificance of water temperature. These studies suggest that whether you’re using hot water or cold, the amount of bacteria killed is the same. Hot water actually has a downside, being more likely to irritate skin by cutting through natural oils on the skin’s surface much faster.

How should you dry your hands?

An important note: hands that are still wet even after washing are more likely to transfer bacteria to and from the next series of surfaces you touch. Drying your hands to completion reduces bacteria even further; whether or not using cloth or paper is better than an air-dryer is debatable. A study from the Mayo Clinic in 2000 found no major differences between each method.

What about hand sanitizers? Are they just as effective?

Hand sanitizers are a good substitute, killing ninety percent and upwards of bacteria and viruses on contact, however they do not eliminate bacterial spores. Sanitizers are also less effective if your hands are visibly dirty. If you can see dirt and grime then washing them with soap and water is a better idea.

What about antibacterial soaps?

There is concern that the antibacterial agents, such as triclosan, that are used to eliminate bacteria, may also add to their resistance. Many essential antibiotics have become ineffective due to bacteria learning how to combat such agents. While triclosan has not been found to be hazardous to humans, it is still under review by the Food and Drug Administration due to hormone-disrupting effects on lab animals.

What if you cannot wash your hands?

If you have no sanitizer or soap and water available, take extra care to avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes, nose, or mouth.


Make sure to consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for all health related advice.

Story Credit

Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Mike Licht

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.