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Lather Up and Clap Your Hands: Celebrating Global Handwashing Day

Learn why handwashing, like brushing your teeth, is a must-do health habit. Our NSF experts offer a step-by-step guide to lathering up the right way.

If there is one golden rule we’ve all paid attention to during the last three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s washing our hands. Now, in honor of Global Handwashing Day on October 15, it’s time to clap our hands and celebrate how soap has been a savior and provided a positive way we can take care of our health and that of our children. This advocacy day is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable method to prevent the spread of diseases and save lives.

NSF experts offer this refresher on handwashing — all about how to lather up, and how often.

Digging Up the Dirt

The first step is understanding why it’s essential to wash your hands. Since bacteria and viruses can spread from person to person after touching your eyes, nose, and mouth or a contaminated surface, it’s vital to protect yourself adequately and frequently.

Fighting the Spirit

Handwashing is a practice the scientists at NSF have been promoting internationally as one of the most successful — and simplest — methods to stop the spread of disease. It’s a tried-and-true public health measure. NSF experts work with researchers, policymakers and innovators to help ensure resilient hand hygiene systems and advocate for safer handwashing practices.

Feed the Habit

Handwashing removes bacteria and viruses before they enter the body and spread to other people. Cleaning hands with soap, particularly before eating or preparing food and after contact with fecal material from using the toilet or cleaning a child’s bottom, is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease.

Every Step Is Essential

We all get in a hurry sometimes. But for handwashing to be effective, every step needs to be followed:

  • Wet your hands
  • Apply soap
  • Scrub your hands for 20 seconds
  • Rinse well
  • Dry your hands

Scrub It Up

A great teaching tool for kids — and a good reminder for adults — is NSF’s Scrub Club®. The website features our heroes representing the five steps of handwashing, and free activities and coloring sheets help all kids become Scrub Club® heroes! By learning more about the “germy villains’” purpose, you will better understand the meaning of proper handwashing.

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