Hand Hygiene

#1 Way to Prevent the Spread of Infections

It only take 15 seconds of using either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub to kill the germs that cause infections.

Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections, including the common cold, flu, and even hard-to-treat infections such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).

With soap and water:

  • Wet your hands with warm water. Use liquid soap if possible. Apply a nickel or quarter-sized amount of soap to your hands.
  • Rub your hands together until soap forms a lather and then rub all over the top of your hands, in between your fingers, and the area around and under the fingernails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for 15 seconds. Need a timer?  Imagine singing the "Happy Birthday" song twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a paper towel if possible. Then use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door if needed.

With an alcohol-based hand rub:

  • Follow directions on the bottle for how much of the product to use.
  • Rub hands together and then rub product all over the top of your hands, in between your fingers, and the area around and under the fingernails.
  • Continue rubbing until your hands are dry. If enough rub was used to kill germs, it should take at least 15 seconds of rubbing before your hands feel dry. 
  • You should not rinse your hands with water or dry them with a towel.

Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette

Is an important practice to prevent the transmission of respiratory infections, including the flu. 

  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (try to cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder area, not your hands). 
  • Use tissues to contain respiratory secretions and dispose of them in the nearest waste receptable after use. 
  • Wash your hands after having contact with respiratory secretions.

When you first register for healthcare, inform staff that you have symptoms of respiratory infection (coughing, sneezing, runny nose) and be sure to practice hand hygiene/cough etiquette.