Washing your hands with soap and water can help prevent the spread of germs which can cause illness. It’s important to remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to maximize the number of germs removed. Some forms of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections can cause severe issues, specifically for infants, those with a weakened immune system, and especially the elderly. Germs can quickly spread from person to person or from surface to person when you:
- Touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Touch frequently common areas in public
- Care for a pet or animal
- Handle garbage
Washing hands with soap and water will remove considerably more germs than rinsing your hands with just water. It is best to wash hands with soap and water, but if soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. While the scented sanitizers are attractive due to their pleasant smells, ensure they have the minimum amount of alcohol required before purchasing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective against some viruses (such as coronavirus and the common flu). However, they are not effective against the stomach flu. Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent stomach flu infections. The best practice is to clean your hands with soap and water to eliminate germs.