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Benefits of Handwashing and Antibacterial Soaps

  • Handwashing is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the most important means of preventing germs from spreading. Germs are most often spread by hands through person-to-person contact.
  • Washing hands with plain soap removes fewer germs than washing with an antibacterial soap.
  • Generally, plain soaps do not kill bacteria, but rather wash them off with the soap, with the help of friction and rubbing.
  • Antibacterial soaps contain ingredients which actually kill germs on the hands.
  • Washing hands with antibacterial soap results in a significant reduction in bacteria on the hands, reducing the spread of germs from person to person and the potential to cause illness.
  • Dishwashing liquids that are also antibacterial hand cleansers provide protection to the skin when they’re used as one would use a liquid hand soap.  About 65 percent of consumers on occasion use a hand dishwashing liquid to wash their hands at the kitchen sink.

When to Wash

  • After using the restroom
  • Before, during, and after preparing food, especially raw meat, poultry, or seafood
  • Before and after meals and snacks
  • Before inserting or removing contact lenses
  • After touching animals or handling animal waste
  • After changing a diaper
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick or injured
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • More frequently when you or someone in your home is sick
  • Anytime your hands are dirty

A “Step-by-Step” to Washing the Right Way

  1. Wet hands with warm running water prior to reaching for soap, either in bar or liquid form.
  2. Rub hands together to make a lather. Do this away from running water, so the lather isn’t washed away.
  3. Wash the front and back of hands, between fingers and under nails. Continue washing for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands well under warm running water.
  5. Dry hands thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer.

What About on the Go?

Hand sanitizers or antibacterial wipes are useful alternatives if soap and water are not available in certain situations (i.e. when traveling in the car or taxi on the way to a business meeting, before eating an in-flight meal or snack, or after working in outdoor settings).

  • School – Pack in the backpack so kids can use them as needed prior to lunch, after recess or between classes or when riding the bus
  • Playground visits – Add to your diaper bag or purse for use after touching the jungle gym, ride-on toys, park benches, sandboxes
  • Commute to work – Bring in your purse or briefcase when coming into contact with banisters, elevators, escalators and mass transit
  • At work – Keep at your desk to reduce germs on hands after using computer keyboards, phones, meeting rooms, shared kitchens
  • Travel – To wipe hands after touching tray tables, blankets or luggage during airplane, bus or train rides (avoid the hassle of liquid gels at airline security)
  • Shopping – Store in your car after touching money, common dressing rooms or restaurant visits.