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Published on October 04, 2019

It's simple - wash your hands

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You've probably heard it before: washing your hands is one of the most important steps you can take to keep from getting sick or spreading germs to others. While it may seem like common sense, you might be surprised to learn that research found, on average, only 82 percent of adults were observed washing their hands after using a public restroom.

Just a quick rinse under water won't do. According to Melissa Sander, Infection Prevention at Gundersen Boscobel, "To really get the germs off your hands, you should wet your hands with warm running water, and then lather them up with soap—front and back and between your fingers. Continue rubbing your hands for 20 seconds. (Sing "Happy Birthday" twice in your head—or out loud if you like. That's about 20 seconds). Rinse your hands and dry them off, preferably with a paper towel or hand dryer."

If soap and water aren't available, Melissa recommends using alcohol-based hand sanitizer gels as a good alternative for cleaning your hands. Just make sure you keep rubbing your hands together until dry.

"Remember, good hand hygiene isn't important only when using the bathroom or when your hands are visibly dirty," Melissa says. "You should wash your hands after touching a pet, coughing or sneezing, changing diapers, handling money or children's toys, or before handling food and eating. And not just during cold and flu season, but all year long."

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Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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