Newsroom > DHHS News Release

December 3, 2010

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

Hello Clean Hands. Goodbye Germs.

Dec. 5-11 is National Handwashing Awareness Week

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

Lincoln – Viruses and bacteria are out there, lurking on lots of things we touch. Did you grab the doorknob? Answer the phone? Type on a keyboard? Pick up a pen? Flush the toilet? Turn on the sink? Shake a hand? Dirty hands can make people sick. And dirty hands mean germs can be transmitted every time you touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

“Frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the flu and other diseases. Good hygiene habits lead to better health so say hello to clean hands and goodbye to germs,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

How does your handwashing technique stack up?

Tips for proper handwashing:

  • 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 paper towel or air dryer.
  • Use a paper towel to turn off faucet if possible.

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 handwashing 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.