Handwashing at home

Healthy Hand Habits for Everyday Life at Home

Jim Arbogast


By Jim Arbogast, Ph.D.

Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements Vice President, GOJO Industries

While we continue to spend more time at home during this unprecedented pandemic, it’s now more important than ever to pay attention to the key moments throughout your day that you and your loved ones should be washing or sanitizing your hands. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to kill germs that may cause illness.

When to wash your hands

It’s now more relevant than ever to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for hand hygiene. Wash your hands throughout the day, with good technique, ideally for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, which is usually readily available at home. It is especially important to clean your hands during these key moments:

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

According to the CDC, always wash your hands if they are visibly soiled. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

It’s also critically important to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands. Germs can enter your body this way and make you sick. Consider this before the next time you reach to adjust your contacts, fix your makeup, or scratch an itch.

Keep on-the-go solutions with you

If you plan on visiting your local grocery store or have a need to visit a public place, be sure to carry and use hand sanitizer. Many businesses offer hand hygiene solutions by the entrance – use it when you enter and leave the building. When applying hand sanitizer, keep these steps in mind:

  • Apply enough to thoroughly wet your hands, approximately the size of a quarter.
  • Rub your hands together briskly until your hands are dry – making sure to cover all surfaces of your hands and fingers, including your fingertips, thumbs and in between your fingers.
  • This should take around 15-20 seconds with a well-formulated product.

Upon arriving back home, wash your hands with soap and water to best eliminate outside germs from entering your home.

Extra steps for healthy hands

Washing hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizer, are some of the easiest steps to reduce germs that can make you sick. The skin on your hands is an excellent protective barrier that serves as the first line of defense against infection-causing germs. Hand hygiene with quality products will not damage your skin, but many factors can hurt your skin condition (e.g. cold, dry weather and gloving). Dried out skin can lead to cracks, which can increase your risk for infections. It’s important to not only keep your skin clean, but also hydrated.

Keep your skin hydrated with moisturizers that are well-formulated and from brands you trust. Keeping your hands moisturized will increase the natural lipids and moisturizing factors already present in your skin, boost skin cell turnover, and relieve dryness. The ideal times to use skin lotion is right before bed, at the beginning of your work shift or daily activities, and soon after washing your hands or exposing them to water (e.g. doing dishes, taking a shower).

For other hand hygiene resources, visit the PURELL® Brand Well-Being Center.

For information and resources from the CDC’s Life is Better with Clean Hands campaign, visit cdc.gov/handwashing/­­­­­­.  #KeepHandsClean

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