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How To Wash Your Hands

posted in Around the Kitchen by Kathy Maister

We all think we know how to wash our hands, but many of us don’t do it properly. Some research a number of years ago found that many people miss large parts of their hands when they wash (see the picture). Who knew?


Simply rinsing the tips of fingertips under cold water does NOT count. Here are some reminders:

  • Always use warm water.
  • It’s better to wet your hands before applying soap, as this prevents irritation.
  • Rub your hands together vigorously for about 15 seconds (or sing “Happy Birthday To You” all the way through, twice!), making sure that both sides of the hands are washed thoroughly (around the thumbs, between each finger and around and under the nails.)
  • Then, rinse with clean water.
  • Germs spread more easily if your hands are wet, so dry them thoroughly. Use a clean, dry towel.


When to wash your hands

  • Before preparing food or eating
  • Between handling raw foods (meat, fish, poultry and eggs) and touching any other food or kitchen utensils
  • After handling raw foods, particularly meat, fish, and poultry; or touching the trash can.

When it comes to good hygeine in the kitchen, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

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Jon (Sackerr) said:

Good hygiene is SO important in the kitchen. As well as washing your hands regularly (and well), it is also really important that your dishcloths (or tea towels as we call them in the UK) are kept clean.

I haven’t got it to hand any more, but I once read some really frightening statistics about the number of germs which multiply in damp dishcloths in a warm kitchen!!

Sara Sweetser said:

Speaking of hygiene, how do you reccomend cleaning off your counters and surfaces after raw chicken has touched it? I am so afraid of the germs. Any suggestions?

Kathy (Maister) said:

Hi Sara!
You do have to be very careful cleaning up after raw chicken. To clean the counter I use a wet paper towel with dish soap on it. After I wipe off the whole counter, I then dry it with another paper towel. Then throw both paper towels away.
I also go through a lot of those plastic gloves they use at the doctor’s office. You can buy a box just about anywhere. If I have even just a paper cut, I wear them for cooking. You wear them once then throw them away! These are especially good for preparing raw chicken.


Betsy Maloney said:

Hi Kathy,

THe segment on washing hands was just great. Hygiene is so important and very ignored by most cooking shows,and classes. I loved your diagram of the most missed places. That was indeed interesting and something I have never seen. I will certainlywatch those areas carefully from now on. Happy cooking.

Kathy (Maister) said:

Hi Betsy and welcome to the world of blogging! I am delighted you have joined us!

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