After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
After handling pet food or pet treats
After touching garbage
This list of key times to wash hands was developed based on data from a number of studies. There may be other key times when it is important to wash hands during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To prevent the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should also wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds:
Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
After touching your mask
After leaving a public place
After touching objects or surfaces that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands.
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can help stop germs from spreading from one person to another and in our communities—including your home, workplace, schools, and childcare facilities.
Follow these five steps every time.
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water
You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.
Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,
Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.