Handwashing and COVID-19
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.
How does handwashing with soap and water remove germs and chemicals?
Soap and water, worked into a lather, trap and remove germs and chemicals from hands. Wetting your hands with clean water before applying soap helps you get a better lather than applying soap to dry hands. A good lather forms pockets called micelles that trap and remove germs, harmful chemicals, and dirt from your hands.
Lathering with soap and scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds is important to this process because these actions physically destroy germs and remove germs and chemicals from your skin. When you rinse your hands, you wash the germs and chemicals down the drain.
Is antibacterial soap better than plain soap?
Use plain soap and water to wash your hands. Studies have not found any added health benefit from using antibacterial soap, other than for professionals in healthcare settings. In 2016, FDA banned over-the-counter sale of antibacterial soaps that contain certain ingredients because these soaps are no better than plain soap at preventing people from getting sick and their ingredients may not be safe for long-term, daily use. Some have shown that using antibacterial soap may contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Is bar soap better than liquid soap?
Both bar and liquid soap work well to remove germs. Use plain soap in either bar or liquid form to wash your hands.
How Germs Spread
Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:
- Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
- Touch a contaminated surface or objects
- Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
Key Times to Wash Hands
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before and after eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
Read more about handwashing and the vital role it plays here.