Why washing your hands is so important

Keeping hands clean can prevent about a third of diarrheal illnesses

(CNN) – Saturday is global handwashing day. It seems like a simple thing, but experts say handwashing saves lives.

Global handwashing day is a time to shine a spotlight on the best-practices and benefits of washing your hands with soap and water. Keeping hands clean can prevent about a third of diarrheal illnesses and almost one in six episodes of respiratory infections, two of the top killers of young children around the world.

Experts say hands should be washed:

  • before, during and after food prep and before eating.
  • before and after caring for a sick person or cleaning a wound.
  • after using the toilet or changing diapers
  • after touching animals, animal food or animal waste
  • after touching garbage

Proper technique is important too. You should use clean, running water. Lather your hands with soap and be sure to wash between your fingers, the backs of your hands and under your nails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. Then rinse well, also using clean, running water.

There are many diseases and medical conditions that can be spread by dirty hands improved hand hygiene can keep us from getting sick and keep us from spreading germs to other people.