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Give Germs The Slip With Proper Handwashing

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
Give Germs The Slip With Proper Handwashing

You've heard it again and again, from your mom, your doctor and medical experts in the media. It's the cheapest and best way to stop the spread of germs responsible for colds, flu and a whole medical dictionary of other illnesses.

But has anyone every taught you how to wash your hands? A cursory swipe with soap, quick rinse and towel dry aren't enough. The soaping process alone should take at least 15 seconds - about the time it takes to sing the happy birthday song or your A-B-Cs, says Rhea Sautter, B.S., infection control practitioner at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Here's a step-by-step guide to explain how to do it right.

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* Wet your hands, soap them up thoroughly and rub vigorously throughout the process. No need to use antibacterial soap. The purpose of soap is to make the germs slippery so they'll rinse off, not to kill them.

* Interlace your fingers "steeple-style" and rub up and down. Make sure you create friction from the fingertips down to the creases between fingers.

* Take your palm and rub it in circles on the top of your opposite hand, making sure your hand travels up to the wrist. Repeat with the opposite palm.

* Scrub your nails against your opposite palm. Repeat with nails on opposite hand. Use a brush or nail file if you have visible dirt under your fingernails.

* Rinse thoroughly holding your hands in a downward direction. Turn off the faucet using a towel to avoid re-contaminating your now-clean hands. Use the towel to open the bathroom door if you're using a public restroom, then toss it in the trash.