Acute Communicable
Disease Control

Contact Information
County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Acute Communicable Disease Control
313 N. Figueroa Street, #212
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 240-7941
Fax: (213) 482-4856

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Acute Communicable Disease Control
Hand Washing

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More Hand Washing Materials

Why should I wash my hands?

Washing your hands is one of the most important things you and your family can do to prevent illness.

Clean hands can help protect you from infectious and food-borne illnesses. If you get sick, it can keep you from passing your illness to others.

Hand washing protects your health by helping to remove dirt and germs that get on your hands during almost any activity.

If you don't wash your hands, the germs on your hands can get into your mouth, nose, eyes, cuts and scrapes, even your food, and make you sick.

But my hands look clean!

Even though your hands may look clean they can still have dirt and germs on them. Germs are too small to see with the human eye. They can only be seen through a microscope.

When should I wash my hands?

Wash your hands BEFORE:
  • Eating
  • Feeding Children, The Ill or Elderly
  • Touching Foods - Especially Foods That Won't Be Cooked
  • Cooking Food
  • Touching or Bandaging a Cut or Scrape
  • Inserting or Removing Contact Lenses
  • Taking Care of a Sick Person
Wash your hands AFTER:
  • Eating
  • Working
  • Playing
  • Touching Animals
  • Touching Foods - Especially Raw Meat, Poultry, Fish and Eggs
  • Using The Bathroom or Helping Others in the Bathroom
  • Changing Diapers
  • Cleaning Up Animal Feces
  • Coughing, Sneezing or Blowing Your Nose
  • Taking Care of a Sick Person
  • Touching Blood or Other Body Fluids
  • Touching Cuts, Sores or Rashes
  • Cleaning The House
  • Handling Garbage

What is the right way to wash my hands?

Wash your hands with running water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • The water should be running. Moving water helps remove dirt and germs. Standing water allows dirt and germs that were washed off to get back onto your hands.
  • Your hands should be under the stream of water so the front and back, and as far up to your wrists as possible, get wet.
  • The water should be comfortable to the touch. If the water is too hot, you can burn yourself. If it is too cold, the dirt and germs may not get washed off.

Get soap all over your hands

  • Include the fronts and backs of your hands and as far up your wrists as you can get.

  • You can use any kind of soap.

Take your hands out from under the water and rub your hands together to make a lather.  Do this for at least 20 seconds.

The lather should cover the front and back of your hands and your wrists.

  • Work hard on the areas between the fingers and under the nails where the dirt hides. 

  • You can use a sponge or cloth to help get the dirt off, but do not use the same cloth or sponge to wash more than one person's hands.  Wash sponges or cloths regularly.

Rinse your hands.

  • The water should run back into the sink, not down your arms.

Dry your hands completely, using a clean towel.

  • Use paper towels or air dryers in places where there are a lot of people.

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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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