Remember, good handwashing helps us stay healthy

A person washes their hands (Photo via Cleveland Clinic News Service)

December 1-7 is Handwashing Awareness Week.

In the midst of a pandemic, good handwashing is one of the best things we can do to prevent transmission of any illness.

“Wash your hands, with any soap, twenty seconds at least, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer - it will do the job,” said Frank Esper, M.D., an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Dr. Esper said germs can be transferred from person-to-person when we touch things like door knobs, money, or even other people.

“The grocery store; movie theater, for example, are all places where we all come together, and when you bring a bunch of people together, you’re bringing a bunch of germs together,” he said. “You can help prevent those infections by washing your hands.”

The good news, according to Dr. Esper, is we don’t need anything fancy to keep hands clean.

“A regular, good, generic soap will do just as fine as the expensive ones with labels that say ‘antibacterial’ and things like that,” he said.

Dr. Esper said parents can teach their kids good hand hygiene practices at any age – but usually once kids are of school age, they can get a better handle on how to wash up properly.

And for small children, hand sanitizer is a good choice.

“The youngest children – the one and two-year-olds – are not very good hand-washers,” said Dr. Esper. “They generally have a hard time working with soap and water and doing the whole sequence. That’s where alcohol-based sanitizers help – you can just squirt it into their hands and rub, rub, rub – and it works so much better for the smaller children.”

In addition to handwashing, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, social distancing of at least six feet and masking are recommended.