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Hands are the most common mode of transmission of disease causing agents. By washing your hands, you can prevent the spread of many infectious diseases and lower your risk of getting, or passing along, influenza. Wash hands with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap is not available after coughing, sneezing and restroom use. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth as germs can enter your body through these openings.

If you are a parent, teacher, day-care provider or other child caregiver, teach children proper hand washing habits. Stress the importance of hand washing and wash your hands with children. Place hand-washing reminders at a child’s eye level and encourage children to wash their hands after playing with toys shared with other children. Hand washing is especially important for children who attend daycare or who come into contact with other children (i.e., schools).

Practice the Habit

Using liquid soap:

  • Wet your hands with warm water.
  • Apply liquid soap to your hands and lather both hands.
  • Rub hands together for at least 15 seconds, covering all surfaces and fingers and scrubbing nails
  • Rinse your hands with water, dry them well with a clean paper towel and use it to turn faucet off.
  • Dry hands with a clean towel
  • If using a cloth towel, do not share towels with others.

Using alcohol-based hand sanitizers:

Only use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if your hands are not visibly dirty. They are an alternative to hand washing when soap and water are not available. If used properly, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is effective in killing bacteria and viruses. Use only alcohol based (60-95%) products.

To use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:

  • Read the instructions on the label.
  • Place sanitizer in the palm of your hand and rub your hands together.
  • Cover all surfaces, including fingers and wrists, and rub until dry (about 15 to 25 seconds).

When to wash:

  • Coming into contact with a person who has been coughing, sneezing or is infected with influenza.
  • Coughing or sneezing.
  • Blowing your nose into a tissue or wiping a child’s nose.
  • Using the restroom, helping a child to use the restroom, or changing a diaper.
  • Handling garbage or other household chores.