Celebrate National Handwashing Awareness Week

woman washing hand under running

This week (December 4th through 10th) is National Handwashing Awareness Week! It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been celebrating for days or just learned about this important holiday—there’s still time to spread the word and promote healthy habits in your practice and your community. To help you make the most of the new few days, we put together a few frequently asked questions, along with their answers.

What is National Handwashing Awareness Week?

According to the American Cleaning Institute, the goal of this week is to “decrease the spread of infectious diseases by empowering individuals to educate and help protect their communities.” Washing your hands is one of the most effective and simple ways to accomplish this goal, hence the holiday!

Why is this event held the first week in December?

December is a busy time for most people. Between the rush of the holidays, the end-of-the-year excitement, and the turn in the weather, it’s easy to become run down and exhausted—perfect conditions for illness to take hold. When your system is compromised, it’s extra important to stay healthy by avoiding germs, and the best way to do that is by washing your hands. By keeping up with these good habits, you can easily decrease your risk of flus, viruses, and the common cold.

When should you wash your hands?  

Most people are good about washing their hands when they use the restroom or are about to prepare food, but there are many other moments throughout your day in which a good washing will go a long way. For example, if you’re caring for someone who is sick, about to or just finished treating a wound, cleaning up after a child or changing a diaper, in contact with animals or their waste, or just took out the trash, you should absolutely wash your hands. All of these everyday activities could spread germs and disease, so make sure to wash up! 

What is the best way to wash your hands?  

Think you know everything about handwashing? Think again! The Center for Disease Control outlines the five steps to proper handwashing. They are as follows:

  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. Be sure to 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.

Ready to Celebrate?  

The American Cleaning Institute has some great resources that are all free for the taking! Their offerings include webinars, infographics, activity and coloring sheets for younger kids, brochures and fact sheets for adults, and posters that you can print out and hang in your practice to remind people of this important week. Download them and start celebrating today!

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