Handwashing is critical to good health 

Why is handwashing important?

Handwashing is one of the best ways you can help stop the spread of infection and stay healthy. It is one of those personal hygiene activities we need to prioritize. Bacteria and germs can enter your body and make you sick if you don’t properly wash your hands. Bacteria can get into your body through your eyes, nose, mouth, and even through an open cut or wound. Washing your hands prevents the spread of pathogens (germs) to you, other people, and even surfaces like a tabletop, countertop, or keyboard.

Broward Extension teaches people about the importance of handwashing in our community to keep them free from illness. It is always surprising how many people do not properly wash their hands and skip this personal hygiene action all together. Yikes!

Individuals who work in places such as concession stands, cafeterias, and restaurants need to keep their hands clean and free from bacteria. We teach handwashing to children too, which can keep them in school by reducing absenteeism. Hand hygiene can also reduce your likelihood of getting the flu, a respiratory infection, coronavirus, and/or a foodborne illness. Handwashing is important to parents, grandparents, and everyone!

When should you wash your hands?

Make it a priority to wash your hands after using the restroom, handling pets, gardening, coughing and/or sneezing into your hands, changing a diaper, taking out the trash, before, during and after handing raw meat and seafood, and when you handle and cook food. These are just a few examples of times you should remember to keep your hands clean.

How long should you wash your hands?

It is recommended by the CDC that we wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Follow these handwashing steps –

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Singing the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice equals about 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel, disposable paper towel or air-dry hands.

Think about it!

Handwashing is easy and quick. Take 20 seconds to clean your hands. Everyone should wash their hands frequently and regularly to stop the spread of infection, prevent illness, decrease absenteeism, and maintain good health!

Learn more about handwashing:

Handwashing for Elders – https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/broward/docs/pdfs/fcs/other-pdfs/FY72700_Handwashing-for-Elders.pdf

Handwashing for Caregivers – https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/broward/docs/pdfs/fcs/other-pdfs/FY72400-Handwashing-for-Caregivers.pdf

Handwashing for Food Handlers – https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/broward/docs/pdfs/fcs/other-pdfs/FY72600-Handwashing-for-Food-Handlers.pdf

Handwashing for School Children – FY72500-Handwashing-for-School-Children.pdf (ufl.edu) https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/broward/docs/pdfs/fcs/other-pdfs/FY72500-Handwashing-for-School-Children.pdf

Handwashing reminder – cut out foldable tent – https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/broward/docs/pdfs/fcs/other-pdfs/UF_IFAS-Extension-Broward-County-Handwashing-Cut-Out_BMJ-2020.pdf

CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html#Washing%20hands%20prevents%20illnesses%20and%20spread%20of%20infections%20to%20others



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Posted: January 25, 2024

Category: Food Safety, Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Teaching,
Tags: 20 Seconds, Handwashing, Handwashing For Caregivers, Handwashing For Elders, Handwashing For Food Handlers, Handwashing For School Children, How Long Should I Wash My Hands?, Prevent The Spread Of Infection, When Should I Wash My Hands?, Why Should I Wash My Hands?

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