Fort Detrick
Industrial Hygiene

Operation STRIDE

What is handwashing?

Hand Washing

Handwashing itself is a process for the removal of soil and microorganisms from the hands.

Proper handwashing is defined as a vigorous, brief (15-20 seconds) rubbing together of all surfaces of lathered hands, followed by rinsing under a stream of running water.

Exclimation Mark

If antimicrobial soaps are drying out your hands, use regular or skin-softening soap*
* (when washing hands properly, regular soap is as effective in removing 'germs' and other contaminants from your hands as antimicrobial soap)

Are you telling me this isn't just a bunch of hype to sell soap?

No Way! Just consider...

  • Sneezing and coughing can spread germs into the air, but most colds and flu are caught and spread through germs on people's hands.
  • When these germs, are on your hands, simply touching your mouth, nose, or eyes is all it takes to make you sick
  • Viruses, like the flu, SARS, and hepatitis A and many bacterial diarrheal causing agents can get on your hands be by touching a doorknob or shaking hands then spread person to person by unwashed hands.
  • Most outbreaks of foodborne illness can also be traced back to unwashed or poorly washed hands.

So if I wash my hands all the time, does that mean I won't ever get sick?

Well, no one can guarantee that, however, over 100 years of studies on this subject can't all be wrong. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!), you'll never notice when you're not sick - but if you have good handwashing habits, and you encourage your peers and your family to practice good handwashing habits, the days that you are sick will likely be far and few between.

I'm convinced! Where can I get more information?

"Handwashing is cheap, but the impact from it is great"

Dr. Richard Wenzel

We've provided posters, pamphlets, and other great handwashing links. And, by the way, if you find something out there that we could use, let us know!

Industrial Hygiene

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