How Often Should You Wash Your Hands In a Day?

Washing your hands can help prevent illnesses such as flu and food poisoning, but how often should you wash your hands in a day? Five times, a dozen times, or more? There isn’t a specific number that you should try to reach; it’s about washing your hands at the appropriate times, and washing your hands properly.

Washing your hands often can help keep you and your family from getting sick. The key is knowing when to wash your hands, and how to wash your hands properly. Click To Tweet

How often should you wash your hands?

There isn’t a quick and easy answer for this question; it’s different for everyone. If you cook meals in your household, or you’re caring for a kid who is home sick from school, you may need to wash your hands more often.

The type of work that you do can influence how often you need to wash your hands. People who work with young children or older adults, people who work with food, and people who work with animals need to wash their hands more frequently than someone who works in an office.

Instead of trying to wash your hands a certain number of times each day, identify the appropriate times to wash your hands, and always wash your hands thoroughly.

When should you wash your hands?

Timing is everything when it comes to washing hands.

Wash your hands before:

  • preparing food
  • eating
  • caring for a wound
  • caring for someone who is ill

Wash your hands after:

  • preparing food
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • blowing your nose
  • caring for a wound
  • changing a diaper
  • using the bathroom or restroom
  • handling garbage and taking out the trash
  • petting or touching an animal
  • touching pet food or pet treats
  • cleaning up pet waste
  • caring for someone who is ill

Washing your hands is always important, but it’s even more beneficial during cold and flu season. Getting vaccinated against influenza virus is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu, but washing your hands also helps prevent the spread of illness.

Can you wash your hands too much?

There are claims that excessive hand washing can make people more prone to illness. The idea is that without exposure to bacteria your body won’t develop a strong immune system. There’s no clinical research to support the idea that washing your hands too much can actually make you sick.

There are cases where you may need limit the number of times you wash your hands, however. For example, symptoms of eczema or dermatitis on your hands may get worse with too much hand washing. Talk to your primary care physician if you notice your hands get dry, cracked, or irritated due to hand washing.