Do you and your kids know how to wash their hands? Here’s the CDC’s how-to

I know, I know. Of course, we know how to wash our hands. Do you?

 Teacher Caitlin McColl helps Drew Pitts, 2, wash his hands. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman 2012

Do you know what to do if you’re in a place (ie changing baby’s diaper in the back of the minivan) that doesn’t have running water.

If you do have running water and soap, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s five steps:

  • 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. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If you don’t have running water: use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol. It won’t kill as many germs as soap will, but it’s better than nothing.

Follow these steps:

  • Apply the gel to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Here is the CDC’s list of when you should wash your hands:


  • Beforeduring, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage


Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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