A Hand-Washing Checklist

Check your hand-washing technique against this advice from experts:

  • Wash in warm or hot running water. Hot water is much more effective than cold at dissolving materials, such as oils, on your skin's surface. But simply running water over your hands is not enough.

  • Use soap. Soap works to break up and dissolve the substances -- primarily mucus, fecal material and food residue -- that likely contain disease-causing germs. Although your hands harbor millions of bacteria, the dangerous ones arrive in these materials.

  • Rub your lathered hands together for about 15 seconds. The rubbing action helps to further loosen any material still adhering to the skin.