Handwashing Helps Keep You Safe

I’m Linda Petterson, a Certified Food Safety Instructor/Proctor with ServSafe of the National Restaurant Association and with Always Food Safe. Handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Here are some helpful tips about handwashing that will keep you safe.

1. Water Temperature: When it comes to handwashing, use water that is as hot or cold as you can stand. The official water temperature for handwashing is 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Use Soap: Liquid and bar soaps are both suitable for handwashing. Soap does not have to be antibacterial to kill germs. Using soap to wash your hands is more effective than using water alone, but if water is all you have, rub your hands together under it and wipe off with a clean towel or air dry.

3. Hand Sanitizer: If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to sufficiently cleanse your hands.

4. When to Wash: You should always wash your hands before eating or after using the restroom. If you work in food service, you’ll also wash your hands before putting on single-use gloves, before and after handling raw food, allergens, and more. Be sure to always wash your hands after using any cleaning or pest control chemicals and after handling money.

5. Length of Washing: Properly washing your hands takes no less than 20 seconds. Wet your hands with warm running water and apply soap. Rub your hands together palm to palm to make a lather. Rub the palm of one hand along the back of the other and along the fingers. Repeat with the other hand. Put your palms together with fingers interlocked and rub in between each finger thoroughly. Rub around your thumbs on each hand and then rub the fingertips of each hand against your palms. Be sure to wash all the way up to your elbows. Rinse off the soap with clean water and dry your hands thoroughly on a disposable towel. Turn off the tap with the towel and use it to open any doors.

6. Handwashing Stations: Handwashing stations must have hot and cold running water that meets temperature and pressure requirements. The water should be drinkable. Handwashing stations should also have liquid, bar, or powdered soap and a way to dry hands, like disposable towels, a continuous towel system, or a hand dryer with warm air delivered at high velocity. Proper handwashing stations will also have a garbage container and signage.

Hope you enjoyed these tips!