Newsroom > DHHS News Release

December 4, 2009

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356,

Squeaky Clean - Washed Hands Prevent Flu

Dec. 6-12 is National Hand Washing Awareness Week

Note: A sound bite on this topic is available at:

Lincoln – Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the flu and other diseases.
Viruses and bacteria lurk on lots of things we touch—doorknobs, keyboards, toilet handles, food, dishes, etc.
“Dirty hands can make people sick,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “If you’re not washing your hands, germs can be transmitted every time you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Good hygiene habits lead to better health.”
Tips for proper hand washing:

  • Wet your hands with warm, running water and lather well with soap.
  • Rub your hands vigorously together for 20 seconds (singing the Happy Birthday song twice is long enough).
  • Scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel.
  • Use a towel to turn off the faucet.

Always wash your hands:

  • After using the restroom
  • After changing a diaper—wash the diaper-wearer’s hands, too
  • After touching animals or animal waste
  • Before and after preparing food
  • After blowing your nose
  • After coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Before and after treating wounds or cuts
  • Before and after touching a sick person
  • After handling garbage
  • Before inserting or removing contact lenses

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are an alternative to hand washing when soap and water aren’t available.

To use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:

  • Apply about ½ teaspoon of the product to the palm of your hands.
  • Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces of your hands, until they’re dry.