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Student Health Services

Hand Washing

The most important thing that you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands. By frequently washing your hands you wash away germs that you have picked up from other people, from contaminated surfaces, or from animals and animal waste.

If you do not wash your hands frequently, you pick up germs from other sources and then you infect yourself when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. You can also spread germs directly to others or onto surfaces that other people touch. One of the most common ways people catch viruses is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with a virus.

The important thing to remember is that, in addition to colds, some pretty serious diseases -- like hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea -- can easily be prevented if people make a habit of washing their hands.


It is especially important to wash your hands

  • Before, during, and after you prepare food
  • Before you eat, and after you use the bathroom
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • When your hands are dirty
  • More frequently when someone in your home is sick

Washing Your Hands Correctly
First wet your hands and apply liquid or clean bar soap. Place the bar soap on a rack and allow it to drain. Next rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces. Continue for 10 - 15 seconds or about the length of a little tune. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs. Rinse well and dry your hands. It is estimated that one out of three people do not wash their hands after using the restroom. So these tips are also important when you are out in public.

Alcohol-Based Handrubs

When using an alcohol-based handrub, apply product to palm of one hand and rub hands together, covering all surfaces of hands and fingers, until hands are dry. Note that the volume needed to reduce the number of bacteria on hands varies by product.

Alcohol-based handrubs significantly reduce the number of microorganisms on skin, are fast acting, and cause less skin irritation.