With the holiday hustle and bustle upon us to rush to the stores to shop, preparing food for family gatherings, and seeing family and friends we may be out of our routines that assist us in maintaining our healthy selves. A few simple tips can assist us in staying healthy as we enjoy the holidays.


Keeping your soap and water handy might just do the trick in keeping the germs away. Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important ways and inexpensive ways you can avoid illness and the spread of germs. Kansas State University and Kansas State Cooperative Extension reports on the frequency of hand washing:

They report that people do not wash their hands as often as you might expect. Observations of 6,333 adults showed that only 68% adults washed their hands in the public restroom. Of the women observed 74% washed their hands 74% of men washed their hands. In a school in Detroit, 305 school children washed their hands four times a day and experienced 24% fewer sick days as a result in reparatory illness and 51% fewer days away from school due to stomach upsets.


The Minnesota Department of Health explains how hand washing works:


Three components:

          1. Soap

          2. Warm water

          3. Friction



Six steps:

          1. Wet hands with warm, running water.

          2. Add soap.

          3. Rub hands vigorously for 20 seconds.

Wash all surfaces including:

            • Backs of hands

            • Wrists

            • Between fingers

            • Tips of fingers

            • Thumbs

            • Under fingernails-nailbrush is best

          4. Rinse.

            • Keep fingers pointing down

          5. Dry vigorously with paper or clean cloth towel.

          6. Turn off faucet with towel and open door with towel.

How it works:

            • The soap suspends the dirt and soils.

            • The friction motion helps pull dirt and greasy or oily soils free from the skin.

            • Warm running water washes away suspended dirt and soils that trap germs.

            • Final friction of wiping hands removes more germs.

Proper hand washing can assist you in avoiding the flu, respiratory illnesses, or food borne illnesses. Now we know how hand washing works, we should look at when to wash our hands. The Minnesota center for Disease control shares this list

When to wash our hands:

After going to the toilet or changing diapers

After coughing or sneezing

After getting visible soil on hands

After handling raw meat/poultry or unwashed fruits and veggies

After playing with pets

After smoking, eating or drinking

After touching sores, lacerations or infected areas

After playing/working outside

After playing in water more than one person has used

Before and after touching any animals

When arriving at work or school

Before handling foods

Before eating

Before giving medications

Before putting contacts in eyes

Before touching ready-to-eat foods/snacks


As you enjoy your families this holiday season, I hope you all keep in mind how to keep everyone you love healthy, it is a great gift for the holidays!

For more information or a hand washing presentation for your classroom or preschool, call the Montgomery County Extension Office, Joy Dugan Health & Human Sciences Purdue Extension Educator: 765-364-6363 or email your question to jvanest@purdue.edu. Follow me on facebook!



Joy Dugan

Purdue Extension-Montgomery County

Health and Human Sciences Educator

Montgomery County

400 Parke Avenue

Crawfordsville IN 47933-1525

Ph: 765-364-6363


Website: http://www.ag.purdue.edu/counties/montgomery/

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Consumer & Family Sciences

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