One of the most important things you can do to prevent spreading germs this holiday season is also one of the simplest: wash your hands. Public health experts say that washing hands can save lives, particularly in the wintertime, when infectious diseases spread the most. Hand washing is the first line of defense against the transmission of infection. Not only can you spread germs to other people if you don’t wash, but you can spread it to yourself, when you eat, scratch your arms or legs, touch your face possibly without even realizing it, or in many other ways.
That’s why you should wash your hands whenever you might have come into contact with something. Wash after you come in from outside; after playing with your kids, or anyone’s; before and after cooking; before eating food; after going shopping; after using public transportation; after you use the bathroom; before going to bed at night. While you’re asleep you’re particularly prone to touching your face without necessarily being aware you’re doing it.
It’s important that you wash our hands properly, That means getting your hands completely wet with warm water, using enough soap to create a decent lather, scrubbing your entire hand—including under your nails and between your fingers—for 20 seconds, rinsing well, and drying thoroughly with a clean towel. You do not need to use anti-bacterial soap; in fact, excessive use of anti-bacterial soap will only mean the bacteria will become resistant and the anti-bacterial agent in the soap will lose its effectiveness.
It’s also important for kids to learn hand washing technique. Make sure the water isn’t too hot for them, either by turning on the faucet yourself or showing them how to. Get a step-stool if they can’t reach the sink, and use a mild soap that won’t irritate their hands. Twenty seconds, the recommended washing time, is about as long as it takes to sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb," so have them do that to prevent rushing through. It won’t take long for hand washing to become a habit that simply gets incorporated into eating and other daily routines.