TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In the fight against the flu, an annual vaccine is important and so is keeping your hands clean.
Before you give that hand sanitizer a pump, listen up. There is a right way to wash your hands that can mean the difference between a week of misery or staying healthy all winter long.
One key to staying on your feet this flu season is by paying attention to your hands.
“It’s so important to keep your hands clean. Hand washing, with soap and water is the ideal — hand sanitizer is the next best option,” said Catherine Roberts with Consumer Reports.
According to the CDC, alcohol-based sanitizers can kill some germs, such as cold and flu viruses when used correctly. But sanitizer is not reliable against several other germs including norovirus. That’s the common and highly contagious stomach bug.
And it may not be as effective if your hands are visibly dirty with grime. One recent study even found that washing your hands with water alone, without soap, might do a better job of removing flu virus than hand sanitizer. But make sure to still use soap.
The best way to clean your hands is to wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If you really can’t get to a sink, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Be sure to use enough to cover all of the surfaces of your hands and fingers, rubbing it until it’s dry.
And remember, the number one way to reduce your risk of catching the flu is by getting the flu vaccine. While a flu shot and regular hand washing, will go along way to preventing colds and the flu remember the flu also spreads through the air. Try and avoid close contact with people you know are sick.