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Hand hygiene

When should I wash my hands? Photo of hand washing at a sink with running water and a bar of soap
Wash your hands regularly and after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, and before eating.

Hand washing 101

Cleansing hands is the easiest way to reduce the risk of spreading germs that cause infections.

How to wash your hands

  1. Use soap and warm, running water.
  2. Wet your hands.
  3. Put some soap on your hands.
  4. Rub your hands together for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Cover all surfaces, including between your fingers and under fingernails.
  5. Rinse with running water.
  6. Dry your hands with a paper towel.
  7. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet.

To use a waterless alcohol handrub, dispense one pump into your hands and rub together until dry. Cover all surfaces, including between your fingers.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, How to Prevent Infections During Your Hospital Stay, ic-ahc-33302
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department; Heidi Gallart, RN, manager, infection prevention, Allina Health
First Published: 11/01/2004
Last Reviewed: 08/06/2014