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URI Health Services

Handwashing 101

Frequent proper hand washing has been shown to reduce upper respiratoryinfections by more than 80% percent.

You should wash your hands:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • Before inserting or removing contact lenses
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After handling uncooked foods
  • After coughing, sneezing, or using a tissue
  • After handling trash or garbage
  • After handling or petting an animal
  • After tending someone who is ill
  • After opening mail
  • Before treating a cut or wound or tending someone who is ill


  • Proper technique for hand washing is illustrated below:

    Hold hands under warm water
    Lather with soap and rub all surfaces, palms, wrist, back of hands and fingers vigorously for 15 seconds
    Wash under finger-nails
    Rinse hands with fingers down
    Dry completely with clean towel patting rather than rubbing vigorously
    Turn off water with towel rather than your clean hand!