University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

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Publication #FCS8782

Proper Hand Washing for Caregivers1

Amy Simonne2

Hand washing is an important way to reduce the fecal-oral transfer of germs that cause diseases. Young children and frail elders have less ability to fight germs than others. As a caregiver you can help reduce the risk of diseases that can be transmitted in a crowded environment by using proper hand washing procedures.

Figure 1. 

Remove jewelry, except for plain wedding band, if you are going to prepare food.

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Figure 2. 

Use soap and running water.

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Figure 3. 

Lather hands and wrists with soap for 20 seconds. (Sing the Happy Birthday song twice.)

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Figure 4. 

Wash the backs of hands and wrists, between fingers, and under fingernails using a nailbrush, if needed.

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Figure 5. 

Rinse your hands and wrists with running water.

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Figure 6. 

Use a paper towel to turn off the water. Dry hands and wrists with clean, disposable paper towels. If you use hand sanitizer, apply it now.

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Wash your hands before

  • Eating and preparing foods

  • Touching serving utensils

  • Preparing formula for infants

  • Handling ready to eat foods

  • Serving foods

Wash your hands after

  • Visiting the restroom

  • Covering your nose or mouth when you cough or sneeze

  • Working with raw foods

  • Changing diapers

  • Engaging in activities outdoors

  • Doing other activities that dirty your hand



This document is FCS8782, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date February 2006. Revised March 2020. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.


Amy Simonne, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.