We are now in full-blown cold and flu season, and we can’t stress enough how important it is to WASH. YOUR. HANDS. Good health habits, like washing your hands, can help stop the spread of germs, but it’s also important to ensure you’re washing your hands the right way.

According to the CDC, here’s how you should wash your hands:

  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. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (or as long as it takes to 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.

Additionally, here are their suggestions for when to wash your hands:

  • Before, during and after food prep
  • Before eating
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or treats
  • After touching garbage

Let’s perform a little experiment using dipslides to see the effects of proper handwashing.


  1. Open one dipslide and expose it to the air for a few minutes. Label this paddle “control”.
  2. Next, you’ll need to expose your hands to germ. Pet a cat or dog, run your hands through your hair, rub your hands on the grass outside, etc. Find a way to germ up those hands.
  3. Touch your hands to another dipslide (#2), both sides, making contact for a few seconds twice on each side of the paddle. Label this paddle as “pre-wash”.
  4. Now, wash your hands using the proper handwashing steps listed above. Touch your hands to another dipslide (#3), as in the previous step. Label this paddle as “hand wash”.
  5. Repeat step 2, exactly as you did before.
  6. This time, you’re going to wash your hands with a hand sanitizer for about 30 seconds. Now, once again, touch your hands to another dipslide (#4), making contact for a few seconds, two times on each side of the paddle.
  7. Make sure all 4 of your dipslides are sealed tightly and properly labeled. Let them set at room temperature for 5 days. Then, observe each paddle carefully.

Are the results as you expected? Did you see any difference between the CDC recommended method of hand washing with soap versus hand washing with hand sanitizer? What kind of growth did you see on the paddle that you touched before washing your hands?