It is common knowledge that washing of hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers is one effective way of ensuring that bacterial or viral infections do not spread.
While hand sanitizers are more effective than washing in killing germs on unsoiled hands, it is still always better to wash hands with soap and water before eating.
When using the sanitizer gel, one must make sure all surfaces of the hands, wrists, cuticles, fingernails and between the fingers and thumbs are covered.
When using soap and water, one needs to work up lather on the wrists, cuticles and areas between the fingers and thumbs, and the hands should be covered in lather for at least 15 seconds.
Fingertips and areas around the fingernails need to be thoroughly cleaned when using either soap or hand sanitizers. Press the fingertips of one hand into the cupped palm of the other hand and rotate the fingertips in a circle. Repeat with the other hand.
Once hands are clean, avoid touching the faucet. Hold a paper towel or use the tip of the wrist or an elbow to turn off the faucet.
The December issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers information and tips to help ensure clean hands.