When to wash your hands

When to wash your hands

Frequent handwashing is a hygiene habit you should practice every day.

Chapter 1

When to wash your hands

by: careana

Frequent handwashing is a hygiene habit you should practice every day.

Wash your hands after you’ve been in a public place or have touched a surface that’s been touched by multiple people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following surfaces are often touched by many people:

  • doorknobs
  • railings
  • outdoor dumpsters or trash cans
  • light switches
  • gas pumps
  • cash registers
  • touch screens
  • shopping carts or baskets

You should also wash your hands in the following situations:


For food prep and eating

  • before, during, and after preparing or cooking food, which is especially important if you touch raw chicken, eggs, meat, or fish
  • before eating or drinking

For personal care, intimate activities, and first aid

  • after using the toilet, both at home or in a public restroom
  • after changing a baby’s diaper or helping a small child use the toilet
  • before changing contact lenses
  • after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing, especially if you’re sick
  • before taking medications, such as pills or eye drops
  • after sexual or intimate activity
  • before treating a burn or wound, either on yourself or someone else
  • after tending to a person who is ill

High-traffic places and dirty objects

  • before and after using public transportation, especially if you hold onto the railings on buses and subways
  • after handling money or receipts
  • after handling household or commercial garbage
  • after coming into contact with visibly dirty surfaces, or when your hands are visibly dirty

Healthcare and other settings

  • before and after treating patients if you’re a medical professional such as a doctor, X-ray technician, or chiropractor
  • before and after treating clients if you’re a cosmetologist, beautician, tattoo artist, or aesthetician
  • before and after entering a hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home, or another type of medical facility

Pet care

  • after feeding your pet, especially if they eat raw food
  • after walking your dog or handling animal waste

Readmore: Why is handwashing important?


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