How to Properly Wash Your Hands

Hand wash

I always heard the whole ‘sing happy birthday’ to time how long I needed to wash my hands. To be honest, I’m more of a George Carlin ‘germs don’t hurt’ kinda girl. But then this whole pandemic thing happened, and suddenly the most important thing in the entire world was washing my hands — over and over and over again… and then over some more. I’m at the point in this pandemic where my hands are raw and chapped from so much hand sanitizer and hand washing. Sometimes I can’t even wear my wedding ring. However, if that’s the worst thing that happens to me throughout this whole ordeal, I’m doing better than several millions of people and so I’m okay with the chapped hands. It wasn’t until the pandemic started that I really learned how to wash my hands, and it turned out singing happy birthday while washing them really does work. My hand washing skills were lacking, but I learned and so can you.

Here are six steps and tips to make sure you get that really clean, no virus here kinda wash (straight from the CDC).

Step One: Turn on the water. Hot water is ideal for washing hands because the heat helps sanitize.

Step Two: Rinse your hands under the running water. Get those hands dripping! After your hands are nice and rinsed off, I’m going to quote a giant purple dinosaur and tell you to never let the water run, no-oh never let the water run!

Step Three: Lather, Lather, Lather. Get that soap and start a scrubbing. On the tops of your hands, the backs, in-between the fingers, under the nails. The more lather the better. (Pro Tip: You don’t need antibacterial soap. Antibacterial soap kills the good bacteria too, while hand washing with soap leaves the good bacteria behind to fight the good fight. Regular soap is cheaper too!)

Step Four: Yes, here is where ‘happy birthday’ comes into play. ‘Happy Birthday’ is approximately 20 seconds long, which is exactly how long (at the minimum) you are supposed to scrub and wash your hands for. Other options besides ‘happy birthday’ include the chorus to the ever great Queen Bey’s ‘Love on Top.’ But why stop there? My favorite queen, Dolly Parton, and I get down with the ‘Jolene’ chorus while washing hands, which is approximately 20 seconds too. You could technically count, but that seems a little boring. Other honorable mentions for tunes to time your hand washing include ‘twinkle twinkle’ (sing it twice) and the final Jeopardy theme song during final jeopardy. You do you. Discover what works for you and go with it.

Step Five: Rinse your hands under running water. Again—hot water is better for this. And if you listened to my old pal, Barney, you would know you need to turn on the water to rinse your hands off because no-oh we never let the water run! And finally, without further adieu,

Step Six: Dry your hands with a clean towel or just let them air dry. I’m going to get on my soapbox to a second here and say do NOT use the air dryers in the public restrooms. Countless studies have shown how many crazy, insane germs there are (including fecal particles!) Better to air dry and have wet hands than have poop hands! And that’s all, folks.

Six steps to washing your hands to get rid of all of those germs and, yes, even the coronavirus ones too. The CDC says that hand washing and now masks are our main lines of defense, so knowing how to correctly wash your hands is important, and what better time than a pandemic to learn?

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