Maui Discussion

Ask a Maui Doctor: What is the Proper Way to Wash Your Hands?

March 19, 2017, 8:06 AM HST
* Updated March 19, 8:10 AM
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Doctors at Minit Medical answer some of the questions submitted by readers.

Each week, a doctor from Minit Medical Kahului or Lahaina will answer questions that have been submitted by readers. Submit your own medical related questions to our doctors at [email protected]

Handwashing. Mauinow stock photo

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask a Maui Doctor” column.

Q: What is the proper way to wash your hands?

A: Throughout our lives, everyone has been told about the importance of washing our hands. We were asked to clean up before coming to the dinner table. Our parents usually checked that we appropriately washed after using the bathroom as we were growing up. And there are placards in most restaurant bathrooms reminding employees to do so before getting back to work. It’s an important step to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. But do we do it well? Probably not.


There must be an infinite number of ways to clean your hands. This week, I’ll touch on the key factors in effective hand-washing. I’ve seen people pump a mound of liquid soap into a palm, only to rapidly coat both hands and rinse it off in three seconds. It’s not how much cleanser is used that matters, nor the type (although “antibacterial” ones can help); technique outweighs both of these. Flooding your hands with soap won’t compensate for poor method. Friction and duration are the most important.


Start by running water over your hands. Then, rigorously lather soap into them. Be sure to get between your fingers, the backs of your hands and under your nails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds – humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice will do the trick. Finally rinse and dry. Small amount of soap and lots of scrubbing. Following these basics will help us all stay healthier.

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