The Correct Way to Wash Hands

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There’s a certain art to proper cleanliness.

I’ve always been a rigorous hand washer, even before the COVID-19 pandemic made us all way more cognizant of our personal hygiene. Your hands are, after all, your primary means of interacting with your body and the world around you, which is a pretty good incentive to keep them consistently clean. But there’s more to washing your hands than just wiggling them around under some running water.

First and foremost, before the washing even starts, you gotta lather up with some quality antibacterial hand soap. You can get a couple of bottles of the regular stuff at your local supermarket or pharmacy. Just remember to replace it promptly when it runs out, and don’t do that dumb college thing where you fill up an empty soap bottle with water and call it soap. That’s not soap, that’s water.

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Once you’re all lathered up, you want to get a nice, thorough scrub on every major surface of both hands. That includes the palms, the backs, the spaces between fingers, the backs of the fingers, the thumbs, the tips of the fingers, and the wrists. You should be scrubbing for about 20 seconds in total; if you need a helpful way to keep track, sing the happy birthday song twice. Personally, though, I like to sing the first verse of Queen’s “Killer Queen,” just to keep things interesting.

I wash my hands every time I return from some trip out of the house, though I also do it before and after preparing and eating food, taking out the garbage, and of course, using the toilet. I sincerely hope you were washing your hands after using the toilet even before the pandemic happened.