COVID-19 FAQs: Will hand-washing and hand sanitizer help?

Scrub for at least 20 seconds to help stop the spread of germs

Dr. Allison Suttle talks about coronavirus while sitting in the lobby of a Sanford Health hospital.

The best way to prevent the spread of illness from the coronavirus is to properly wash your hands, says Dr. Allison Suttle, chief medical officer of Sanford Health.

Watch video: Refresh your memory on proper hand-washing

Everyday preventive actions can help stop the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). These include hand-washing and avoiding contact with others who are sick.

“Coronavirus is spread by droplets. So anytime we talk or sneeze or cough, there’s droplets that come from our mouth,” Dr. Suttle said. “The virus is on those and it can land on surfaces. I touch the surface and then I touch my face — my eyes, my nose, my mouth — and that’s how I get infected with the coronavirus.

“That’s where hand-washing becomes so important. Alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, just soap and water will get rid of the virus. That is all it takes.”

At home or work, wash your hands often — and correctly:

  • Use clean, running water. Use warm water if it’s available.
  • Wet your hands before applying soap.
  • Rub your soapy hands together for at least 20 seconds. Wash all surfaces well. This includes your wrists, palms, backs of hands, and between fingers.
  • Remove the dirt from and clean under your fingernails.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly to remove all soap.
  • Dry your hands with an air dryer or a clean paper towel.
  • Turn off the faucet with a paper towel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands often, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, the CDC says. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

Additionally, clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily using a regular household detergent and water.

Learn more

Posted In Coronavirus, Frequently Asked Questions, News

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