We have collected resources from across the Joint Commission, CDC, FDA and more to provide a one-stop-shop for sanitization and handwashing information. Learn more about hand hygiene using our FAQ below.

How do I ensure that I’m washing my hands correctly?

Make sure to scrub all areas of your hands, including your palms, backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails for at least 20 seconds for both techniques. The CDC has provided a step-by-step process, along with printable materials, here for your reference.  Johns Hopkins Medicine has also provided the following videos to see the correct techniques in action: 

How often should I wash my hands?

These are CDC’s key times you should wash your hands with soap and water:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy
The WHO “Five Moments” for hand hygiene provides guidelines for hand washing and sanitizing.

Which method should I use?

How does hand hygiene fight antibiotic resistance?

Hand hygiene helps stop the spread of germs, including ones that can cause antibiotic-resistant infections. Antibiotic resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. Keeping your hands clean by washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer is one of the best ways to prevent germs from spreading and avoid infections.

What does it mean when the label of my hand sanitizer says “alcohol”?

Hand sanitizers labeled as containing the term “alcohol,” used by itself, are expected to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol). Only two alcohols are permitted as active ingredients in alcohol-based hand sanitizers – ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol or 2-propanol). However, the term “alcohol,” used by itself, on hand sanitizer labels specifically refers to ethanol only. Methanol and 1-propanol are not acceptable ingredients in hand sanitizer and can be toxic to humans. Visit Is Your Hand Sanitizer on FDA’s List of Products You Should Not Use? for more information.

What method of hand hygiene is recommended for healthcare workers?

CDC recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers as the standard method for hand hygiene. For more information, visit Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.

What is required to have a compliant hand hygiene program per The Joint Commission?

For all healthcare programs to be fully compliant with NPSG.07.01.01 and standard precautions, organizations must implement a hand hygiene program that follows either categories IA, IB, and IC of the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/ or the current World Health Organization (WHO) hand hygiene guidelines, set goals for improving compliance with hand hygiene guidelines and improve compliance with hand hygiene guidelines based on established goals.

How can I encourage hand sanitization among my employees?

Remind employees to wash their hands often with soap and water and provide accessible sinks, soap, water, and a way to dry their hands (e.g., paper towels, hand dryer). Give out buttons, and put visual reminders like printouts, signs or posters, in bathrooms or kitchen areas to remind employees to wash their hands. Provide other hygiene supplies such as tissues, no-touch/foot pedal trash cans, and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to keep your employees healthy.

The Joint Commission provides strategy development resources for hand hygiene goalsetting.  Additionally, the WHO provides an Advocacy Toolkit, printables and other resources as part of their annual World Hand Hygiene Day campaign, as well as a technical reference manual to help with goalsetting calculations.

Does CDC regulate handwashing in community settings?

No. CDC is not a regulatory agency, and therefore does not enforce compliance with handwashing recommendations. CDC has developed guidance on when and how to properly wash hands in community settings and when and how to clean hands in healthcare settings. Your state or local health department may have handwashing requirements included in their health codes.


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