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Safety and Wellness

How Can I Wash My Hands Without Spreading Germs?


How can you wash your hands without spreading germs when you touch the tap handle?
- Cecilia*

This is a great question: There you are, doing the right thing by washing your hands for 20 seconds or more with warm water and plenty of soap. Then you realize that, to turn off the tap, you have to touch the same handle you touched when your hands were dirty!

Lots of people use a paper towel to turn off a tap after washing their hands (and some people also use a paper towel to open the restroom door when they leave). Using your elbow to push the tap handle closed is another way to avoid touching it — although this is easier to do with some kinds of taps than others.

Germs don't just stay in the restroom, though. Surfaces like desks, keyboards, and shopping cart handles are big germ hangouts. So it's a good idea to carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use before you eat, after you blow your nose, etc.

Studies prove that good hand washing habits keep infections at bay. So wash your hands well and often, but don't worry too much about hidden germs on taps, sinks, and other places. Most teens have strong immune systems that can cope with these.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.


Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

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