Washing hands.
Kids & Family Health

How Handwashing Keeps You Safe

Did you know ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and Greeks noted the importance of handwashing for health? To get their hands clean, they used various substances, such as clay, sand, and ashes, as early forms of soap. In the thousands of years since, humans have continued this simple but essential method of hygiene. 

In modern times, the first full week of December serves as National Handwashing Awareness Week. It’s a good reminder that this practice can save lives and prevent the spread of dangerous diseases. 

Why Handwashing Is So Important

Handwashing is a basic yet powerful act of personal hygiene that plays a crucial role in safeguarding public health. The human hands are a breeding ground for various microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses. These pathogens can easily transfer from your hands to surfaces and other people, leading to the spread of disease.

Handwashing is essential for:

  • Disease Prevention — Handwashing is one of the most effective measures to prevent the transmission of diseases, including the common cold, flu, foodborne illnesses, and more recently, COVID-19.
  • Reducing Health Care-Associated Infections — In health care settings, proper hand hygiene is crucial for stopping infections that can be transmitted between patients.
  • Food Safety — Hand washing helps prevent cross-contamination and the spread of foodborne illnesses.
  • Children’s Health — Teaching children the importance of handwashing from an early age helps build lifelong hygiene habits and reduces the risk of illnesses.
Child washing hands.

How To Wash Your Hands Well

Today, handwashing is a well-established practice in health care, food service, and everyday life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide guidelines for proper handwashing techniques, emphasizing the use of soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizers with 60% alcohol content or higher are recommended if soap and water are unavailable.

In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, handwashing is an essential tool to fight the virus. Regular handwashing, along with mask wearing and social distancing, has played a crucial role in slowing the spread.

An Annual Reminder

National Handwashing Awareness Week serves as a timely reminder to make sure we’re all doing our part. It's a tribute to the countless generations who recognized the value of clean hands in maintaining health and preventing disease transmission. By taking the time to wash your hands, and do it well, you’re preserving the health and well-being of yourself, your family, friends, and community. 

Simple Solutions

AltaMed is available to help keep yourself and your family safe from all manner of seasonal viruses. We have information on the steps you can take like handwashing, masking up, and getting vaccinated.

Learn how to get started with AltaMed or call us at (888) 499-9303.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

How Handwashing Keeps You Safe