Hand-washing 101: The right way to wash your hands to fight off germs this flu season

HOUSTON – Something you do every day is washing your hands, but are you doing it right? The answer might surprise you.

Improper hand-washing leaves people susceptible to germs but fighting off the flu can be easier than you think if common hand-washing mistakes are avoided.

Board certified dermatologist, Dr. Sherry Ingraham with Advanced Dermatology tells us why and how you should properly wash your hands.

“We all under brush and we all under wash. There’s really a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it,” said Ingraham.


  • Not washing your hands long enough
  • Neglecting the dirt and germs under the fingernails

You can correctly wash your hands by first wetting them, because soap isn’t effective with dry hands. Hot or lukewarm water is best, but cold water can also get the job done.

You want to wash your hands for about 20 seconds. Make sure the soap is getting underneath the fingernails, the back of your hands and around the cracks and crevices of the hands.

Before rinsing, make sure your hands have both been covered in soap. Next, dry with a clean towel because germs love to breed in moisture.

Dr. Ingraham touches on contagious illnesses we can avoid.

“The flu is reaching epidemic proportions this year and it’s an illness that’s spread by droplets. It’s droplets on items and droplets on our hands. You need to keep your hands flu free," said Ingraham.


Choosing the right soap may not be as simple as you might think.

Dr. Ingraham recommends not using soap with antibacterial or antibiotic labels. A regular, good ole generic soap will do just as fine.

If soap and water are not available then an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be effective as well.

The CDC recommends using a product that contains at least 60% alcohol and to rub it all over the surfaces of the hands until dry.


Kids are the easiest targets for germs and illnesses. Reminding kids to repeatedly wash their hands for 20 seconds singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, can make it fun.

Having kids carry around a hand sanitizer in their backpack during school can also help them avoid getting sick. Look for hand sanitizers with 75% ethyl alcohol or higher is a great idea.


If you have sensitive skin, the more you wash your hands the more you can be you’re prone to dryness of the skin. You can find EpiCream over the counter that can keep your skin from flaring up and dryness.

For more information or to keep up with Dr. Ingraham, click here.

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