About Handwashing as a Healthy Habit in the Kitchen

Key points

  • Your hands carry germs you can’t see, and these germs can be introduced to your food while you are preparing it.
  • Washing your hands often and correctly while you’re cooking can help prevent cross-contamination.
  • Wash your hands often while cooking to keep germs off your food and help you and loved ones stay healthy.
Man washing his hands in kitchen sink


Handwashing is one of the most important things you can do to prevent food poisoning when preparing food for yourself or loved ones. Your hands can spread germs in the kitchen. Some of these germs, like Salmonella, can make you very sick. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is an easy way to prevent germs from spreading around your kitchen while handling and preparing foods.

Hand hygiene data‎

In a 2023 observational study by USDA, participants failed to wash their hands correctly 97% of the time. Nearly half of the participants cross-contaminated spice containers because they didn't wash their hands adequately.

When to wash hands at home

Handwashing is especially important during some key times when germs can spread easily:

  • Before, during, and after preparing any food.
  • After handling uncooked meat, chicken or other poultry, seafood, flour, or eggs.
  • Before and after using gloves to prevent germs from spreading to your food and your hands.
  • Before eating.
  • After touching garbage.
  • After wiping counters or cleaning other surfaces with chemicals.
  • After touching pets, pet food, or pet treats.
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.


Don't let germs ruin your food plans. Make handwashing a healthy habit while preparing food for yourself and your loved ones!