Government of New Brunswick

Wash Your Hands to Prevent Infection

Your hands may touch many surfaces in the run of a day. A wide variety of activities, including personal hygiene, food preparation, and house-cleaning, can result in bacteria and viruses collecting on fingers and palms. So, hand washing is very important.

These unwelcome passengers can be left on all sorts of surfaces such as doorknobs, telephones, and faucets. Viruses can live for hours, and sometimes longer, on many things you touch on a regular basis. The next person to touch these objects runs the risk of collecting these germs on his/her hands in turn.

When your fingers touch your eyes, nose or mouth, or an open cut or sore, the risk of infection increases. Many sicknesses, such as influenza, meningitis, common cold, and infectious diarrhea, are often passed from one person to another in this manner.

This is why it's so important to wash your hands often and well.

To wash your hands properly, follow these steps:

  • Wet your hands and apply liquid soap or clean bar soap
  • Rub your hands vigorously together, scrubbing all skin surfaces
  • Pay special attention to the areas around your nails and between your fingers
  • Continue scrubbing for at least twenty seconds
  • Rinse your hands and dry them well

Proper and frequent hand washing is the key to preventing the spread of many common infections. It's the best way to protect your health and the health of others when diseases, such as cold and flu, are 'going around'.