Is Using Hand Sanitizer the Same as Washing my Hands?

Keeping your hands clean is the most important thing you can do to prevent getting sick and spreading germs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Washing your hands with soap and water is still the best way to fight germs. But if soap and water aren’t available, using hand sanitizer is the best option.

When washing your hands with soap and water to reduce germs, make sure to:

  • Take jewelry off
  • Wet hands and apply soap
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather
  • Scrub the backs of your hands, your fingers and clean under your nails
  • Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds – about how long it takes to hum the entire “Happy Birthday” song twice
  • Rinse well
  • Dry off with a clean towel or let them air dry

When using hand sanitizer, remember:

  • It must contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective
  • It is not effective when your hands are visible dirty
  • Apply it to the palm of one hand, then rub hands together
  • Rub the sanitizer all over the surfaces of your hands and fingers until they are dry

Ask your doctor for more information about hand washing and how it can keep you healthy.

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