At Home, at Play, and out and About – Handwashing Is Essential

Germs are everywhere! They are in the house, at the playground, at a friend’s house, the grocery store, the mall, the park, the fair, the lake, the pool … everywhere! Germs can get onto your hands and items you touch throughout the day. Many of these germs cause diarrheal illnesses and respiratory illnesses such as the flu or common cold. Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most important steps you can take to get rid of germs and stay healthy.


  • Before, during, and after preparing food.
  • Before eating food.
  • After using the toilet.
  • After changing diapers or helping a child use 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.
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.


  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Use a timer or hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end two times.
  • Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

For more information on handwashing, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Handwashing website at Allison Gosbin, RN, BSN, CIC, is a public health nurse with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.

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