Facial Cleanliness

Woman washing her face

Facial cleanliness is important to your health. Use soap and clean, running water to remove dirt, oil, and unwanted debris from your face.

Many diseases and conditions can be prevented or controlled through appropriate personal hygiene and by frequently washing parts of the face. Appropriate facial hygiene practices include not only washing the face but also properly caring for teeth, mouth, eyes, contact lenses, and ears.

Think Before Touching Your Face

Your hands can make your face dirty. Thinking before touching your face can help stop the spread of germs. On average, people touch their faces 23 times per hour.1 Unwashed hands can easily spread germs to your face after touching contaminated surfaces or objects. Protect yourself by:

  • Washing your hands at keys times (such as before touching your face or putting in contact lenses)
  • Using a tissue for your nose
  • Using a tissue to scratch or rub your eyes or to adjust your glasses
  • Preventing itchiness by using facial moisturizer for dry skin and eye drops for dry eyes

Keep Your Face Mask Clean

Wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose can be an important way to prevent the spread of respiratory illness. Keeping your mask clean will help keep your skin healthy. Wash reusable masks before wearing them and as soon as they become dirty. If you use a disposable face mask, throw it away after wearing it once.

Face Washing Is Key in Preventing Spread of Some Diseases

Respiratory illnesses can be caused by many different bacteria and viruses. Typically, respiratory infections, like the common cold, flu, and COVID-19, can spread through droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. They can also be spread by direct contact with bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing germs. When you touch your face, the germs on your hands can enter your mucous membranes through your nose, eyes, and mouth, causing infection. Protect yourself by washing your hands before touching your face.

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) spreads easily from person to person. Good hygiene practices, such as handwashing, face washing, and not touching or rubbing eyes, are important for limiting the spread of pink eye.

Trachoma is rare in the United States, but it is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. It spreads through close personal contact. It often infects entire families and communities. Poor facial hygiene can lead to the spread of this disease through eye-seeking flies and contaminated fingers. The promotion of good hygiene practices, such as handwashing and face washing at least once a day with water, is a key step in breaking the cycle of trachoma transmission.

  1. Kwok YL, Gralton J, McLaws ML. Face touching: a frequent habit that has implications for hand hygiene.Am J Infect Control. 2015;43(2):112-114. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2014.10.015
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2022