Soap. Water. Scrub. Repeat. Get it?

Everyone knows about the importance of hand washing, right? So why are we still doing so many things wrong?

The science is simple: Clean hands save lives.

We all get that, right? From as early as kindergarten, children and adults hear a similar refrain. Signs around public facilities, posters in school restrooms and stories in the news constantly remind us that hand washing is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting sick or passing germs to others.

And yet, research shows we aren’t as good about hand washing as we think.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Environmental Health found that 10 percent of people skip the sink altogether after using the bathroom. About one in three of the hand washers didn’t use soap and nearly everyone else didn’t wash long enough.

OK, so let’s go over this again. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Experts say that water temperature has no effect on removing bacteria.

Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.

Continue scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds and rinse your hands under running water. Finish up by drying your hands with a clean towel or by air-drying them.

Washing your hands is a good idea just about any time, but there are key moments throughout your day that demand proper hand hygiene: before eating, preparing food, drinking and touching your mouth.

You should always wash after going to the restroom, coughing or sneezing, playing outdoors and handling animals.

And if you don’t want to wash your hands to improve your health, stave off sickness and save lives, wash them to be happier. Research shows that cleaning our hands boosts our confidence and washes away feelings of failure.

And who doesn’t want to be happier?

Bonus germ tip: Don’t forget to disinfect your technology. Two or three times a week, take a disinfectant cloth and wipe down your phones, computer, mouse and even your TV’s remote control.

– Ryne Dunkelberger

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