Why it’s Important to Regularly Wash your Hands

December 1 marks the start of National Handwashing Awareness Week, a time set aside every year to remind people about the importance of good hand hygiene.

Media Downloads

CCNS health and medical content is consumer-friendly, professional broadcast quality (available in HD), and available to media outlets each day.

Additional Assets

*Email us for video download password Content is property of Cleveland Clinic and for news media use only.

Media Contact

We're available to shoot custom interviews & b-roll for media outlets upon request.

CLEVELAND – December 1 marks the start of National Handwashing Awareness Week, which is a time set aside each year to remind people about the importance of good hand hygiene.

“Hand washing is really the heart and soul of keeping yourself and others safe and free from infections during the cold and flu season,” said Donald Ford, MD, chair of family medicine for Cleveland Clinic. “That has been the case for years. So even before there was such a thing as COVID-19, we always encouraged people to wash their hands.”

Dr. Ford said if you don’t wash your hands, you could spread germs to other people, surfaces and even food and drinks. According to the CDC, washing hands can help reduce respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16 to 21%.

So what’s the best technique when it comes to washing your hands? The first step, get your hands wet and then lather with soap. Be sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds. Finally, rinse your hands with warm water and dry them with a clean towel.

Another tip, pay extra attention to your nail beds.

“The bed of the nail is often where the germs can sit. So if you just do the surface of your hands, you’ll be clean but you’ll have bacteria and other germs around the back of your hands,” Dr. Ford explained.

Don’t forget to keep some lotion nearby, too. It’s very easy to dry out your hands if you’re regularly washing them.

For Journalists Only

Sign up below to be added to our Daily Health Stories distribution list.

For more information on medical conditions and diseases, visit our Health Library.