• You're all caught up!

How Long Should a Person Wash Their Hands to Prevent Diseases?

author image Shemiah Williams
Shemiah Williams has been writing for various websites since 2009 and also writes for "Parle Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in business and technology and a master's degree in clinical psychology. Williams serves as a subject matter expert in many areas of health, relationships and professional development.
How Long Should a Person Wash Their Hands to Prevent Diseases?
A person washing their hands in a sink. Photo Credit MargoeEdwards/iStock/Getty Images

Disease-Causing Germs

Because germs are everywhere, it is essential that we protect ourselves from coming into contact and spreading them. Germs are harmful because they cause and spread disease. There are five types of germs that act as infectious agents: bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and helminths. Bacteria can cause illnesses such as strep throat or a urinary tract infection. A cold, the flu and AIDS are all viruses. Candida or yeast infections are caused by fungi. Protozoa can cause illness like malaria and tapeworms are an example of helminths.

Hand-Washing Time

Washing your hands is an effective way to kill germs you may have come into contact with and prevent the likelihood of spreading them to others. You can use regular soap or antibacterial soap; they have been found to be equal in effectiveness. Start by using warm water to rinse your hands. Rinsing first can get rid of any "topcial" germs you have come into contact with. Use liquid (a dime-sized drop) or bar soap to lather your hands well. Continue to lather and rub your hands together for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Singing your ABC's or "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" (two to three) times while washing your hands. This ensures that you are spending adequate time.

Hand-Washing Process

Take care to scrub all areas in around your hands, including the backs of your hands, wrists, in between fingers, nail beds and under fingernails. If you are wearing jewelry be sure to wash around and under it. Rinse all soap from hands. Dry your hands with a clean towel or disposable towel. Use a towel to turn off the faucet so you don't pick up any germs that were on your hands when you originally turned on the faucet. If you are in a public restroom, it is a good idea to use a towel to open the door when exiting to avoid "recontaminating" your hands. Washing your hands after eating, using the washroom or using public transportation can prevent the spread of disease in your home and to those around you.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media