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Q & A: Hand Washing

Why should I use soap and water to wash my hands?

Germs get onto your hands and items you touch throughout the day. When your hands may be dirty, it’s best to wash with soap and water to remove whatever germs, grime, and chemicals may be on them.

Warm or cold water?

Either is fine, as long as it’s clean.

Bar soap or liquid?

Either is fine.

Does the soap have to be antibacterial to work?

No. Plain soap and water work just as well.

What if I don’t have soap, but I have access to water?

Using soap to wash hands is more effective than using water alone, but if water is all you have, rub your hands together under it and wipe off with a clean towel or air dry.

How long do I need to scrub when washing my hands?

Scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds is most effective.

Do I have to clean under my fingernails?

Yes, germs like to hide under fingernails. Make sure to clean there, too.

What if I don’t have soap or water to wash my hands?

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are said to kill most types of germs on the hands but may not kill certain bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea. You should wash your hands before eating or after using the restroom.

Source: cdc.gov

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