COVID-19: Wash your Hands

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Washing your hands helps stop the spread of COVID-19—science says so!

Handwashing, when done correctly, is your best protection against the spread of communicable diseases.

Good handwashing technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

When you cannot wash your hands

  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • If you must use hand sanitizer, be sure to avoid any products on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) list of hand sanitizers that have been recalled. Some could contain methanol (or wood alcohol), which causes blindness or death.
    • Use hand sanitizer only as directed on hands. Accidentally ingesting even a relatively small amount of methanol may pose a serious poisoning risk for children. Symptoms of methanol poisoning are nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
    • If you or a child accidently swallows hand sanitizer, call the Wisconsin Poison Center right away. Don’t wait for symptoms to develop. Call the Poison Center at 800-222-1222 anytime day or night.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth when in public.

Last Revised: September 14, 2020