Hand Washing

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After using the toilet
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After touching garbage

What if I don’t have soap and clean, running water?

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

How do you use hand sanitizers?

  • Apply the product to the palm of the hand.
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.
  • Hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty.

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Good health habits for preventing seasonal flu include proper hand washing to help stop the spread of germs at home, work, and school. Good hand hygiene is one of the most critical control strategies in outbreak management on board ships and cruises.

Getting ready to travel abroad?
Learn more about recommended (and required) vaccinations for international travel.