Why should I wash my hands?

Dawn Marcus
Did you know that one of the best ways to stop the spread of infection is also one of the cheapest? Yep, simple soap and water!

Hand washing is important to reduce the spread of infections in the hospital and also to those out in the community who wish to avoid contracting viral or bacterial illnesses -- like the common cold or even swine flu!

Did you know that:
  • Between 2 million and 10 million bacteria live below your elbows.
  • The number of germs on your hands doubles after going to the
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent spreading infection or illness. It helps keep you safe from germs while stopping bacteria transfers from one person to another. Contagious illnesses are common, so washing your hands can help prevent cold, Escherichia coli and salmonella contamination, among others.


It's astonishing when you think about the number of objects you touch in one day. All the shared doorknobs, money, and handrails on the subway, just to name a few, can be teeming with germs that cause anything from a simple cold to a serious flu. Since germs such as bacteria and viruses can live for quite a while on all of these inanimate objects, it's important to wash your hands often. Clean running water and soap are preferred since not all bacteria and viruses can be killed by antiseptic hand washes. But if clean running water isn't available, use the alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.