Handwashing: A Healthy Habit in the Kitchen

Handwashing is one of the most important things you can do to prevent food poisoning when you are preparing food for yourself or loved ones. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is an easy way to prevent germs from spreading around your kitchen and to other foods.

Follow these handwashing tips to make sure you have clean hands when preparing food:

Close-up of hands being washed in the kitchen and a reminder that handwashing keeps you healthy.

Wash your hands often when you cook to prevent the spread of germs. Your hands can spread germs in the kitchen, so wash your hands often to prevent cross-contamination. Handwashing is especially important during key times when germs can spread. Here are some key times to wash in the kitchen:

  • Before, during, and after preparing any food.
  • After handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • 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.

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs, but it’s important to follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
A woman washing hands in her kitchen.

Wash Hands Before and After Using Gloves

Washing hands is important even if you’re wearing gloves. Be sure to wash your hands before and after using gloves to prevent the spread of germs. You can contaminate gloves with germs from your hands when you put on gloves. Contaminated gloves can spread germs to your hands when you remove the gloves.

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

Page last reviewed: October 3, 2019