Hand Hygiene: Stopping the Spread of Germs

Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Hand hygiene means washing your hands with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Use hand hygiene:

  1. Before touching your face or mouth, especially after you have been in public places, e.g., subways;
  2. Before preparing a meal/any food;
  3. After touching raw meat, especially chicken or turkey;
  4. Before eating;
  5. Before and after taking care of someone who is sick;
  6. Before and after inserting or removing contact lenses;
  7. Before and after inserting a dental retainer or dentures;
  8. After using the toilet;
  9. After cleaning up after a pet;
  10. After sneezing;
  11. After working outside, or whenever your hands are visibly dirty. When hands are visibly dirty, use soap and water, not just alcohol hand gel.

List complied by Marlene Durand, M.D., Director of Infectious Diseases, Mass. Eye and Ear.