Keeping our hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. It's best to wash your hands with soap and clean running water for 20 seconds.
If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based product to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand rubs are fast acting and significantly reduce the number of germs on skin.
With soap and water:
- Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
- Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
- Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Rinse hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer.
- Use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.
With alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
- Apply product to the palm of one hand.
- Rub hands together.
- Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry.
You should wash your hands:
- Before preparing or eating food.
- After going to the bathroom.
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom.
- Before and after tending to someone who is sick.
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- After handling an animal or animal waste.
- After handling garbage.
- Before and after treating a cut or wound.
- Restroom Poster - Clean Hands for 20 Seconds (CDC)
- Lávese las manos con agua y jabón por al menos (CDC)
- Clean Hands Keep You Healthy Poster (CDC)
- More Handwashing Posters, Flyers, Videos (CDC)
- Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives (CDC)
As of April 3, 2020, the CDC is now advising voluntary use of "non-medical cloth based" face coverings when you can't keep six-feet between you and others in public. Cloth face coverings are not a replacement for physical distancing. Surgical masks and N95 masks need to be reserved for health care providers.
Cover your cough
Many respiratory illnesses—including serious ones such as influenza and pertussis (whooping cough)—are spread by coughing or sneezing. Some respiratory illnesses can also spread by direct contact—for example, after someone’s hands become contaminated by droplets from coughing or sneezing.
These illnesses spread most easily in crowded places or households where people are in close contact. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not into your hands.
What to do if you get sick
Help yourself get better and avoid spreading your illness to others by:
- Getting ample amounts of rest.
- Staying home from work or school.
- Drinking extra liquids—at least one glass of water or juice every waking hour.
- Not preparing food for others while you have symptoms and for at least 72 hours after recovering.