How Long Should You Wash Your Hands (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 20-30 Seconds

Handwashing is a very crucial aspect for the protection of an individual from various bacteria and germs. On average hands should be washed for 20-30 seconds for the soap to work and eliminate all the germs.

Knowing how to wash hands perfectly can help one to stay healthy and far away from numerous diseases. Not only how, but also for how long hands should be washed plays a vital role in the perfect cleaning of the hands.

The hands if not washed properly, can act as a bridge for the germs to enter the body. Hands should be washed whenever an individual touches a place that is touched by many other people like door handles, shopping carts, etc.

Washing hands after a social gathering or function or a work meeting is also very crucial. This is because during these events, one shakes hands with many people and this can lead to an easy spread of germs.

Another important time for washing hands is before cooking or going to the kitchen. While cooking various food products that are going to be eaten are touched and if hands are not washed, the germs from the hands can move to the food products.

How Long Should You Wash Your Hands

How Long Should You Wash Your Hands?

The average time for which hands should be washed is 20-30 seconds. This can also vary depending on the flow of water, the type of soap/hand wash/sanitizer used. Thorough cleaning of hands should be ensured when washing hands to prevent germs from spreading.

One of the best ways to wash hands is by using soap and water. During instances of unavailability of soap and water, alcohol-based sanitizer is a great alternative. Although sanitizers are not that effective as compared to soap and water, they are ideal during the unavailability of soap and water.

Washing hands with clean water is also of great importance. The use of soap during washing hands with water proves to be more effective. Scrubbing the hands after applying soap further enhances the hand washing process.

While washing hands is extremely crucial, turning off the tap when not required is also important to prevent the wastage of water. After the application of soap, the hands must be rinsed properly to remove all the soap and germs.

Once the entire process of washing hands is complete, the next step is drying the hands. This is because germs can travel easily through wet hands. If a clean hand towel is not available, air-dry the hands or look for tissue papers.

The hands should be washed for at least 20-30 seconds to ensure the elimination of all the germs. The entire soap should be removed properly and the hands should be dried after the completion of the washing process.

Washing hands will help one stay away from numerous diseases and at the same time be hygienic. Washing hands before eating food is especially very crucial to ensure the elimination of germs.


Hand Washing TechniqueAverage Time
Water and Soap20-30 Seconds
Hand Sanitizer20 Seconds

Why Should You Wash Your Hands For That Long?

Hand washing is a very essential step in ensuring safety from various germs and bacteria that can cause diseases. This process should hence be done with patience and no rush must be made.

At least 20-30 seconds must be given when washing hands. During these 20-30 seconds the hands should be scrubbed properly with soap and then rinsed with water to remove all the soap and eliminate the germs.

Hand washing must be made sure especially before cooking, eating, going, or leaving a medical facility. Even after social gatherings or similar events, handwashing must be ensured later to eliminate all the germs that could have traveled by shaking hands.

Also, when meeting a person infected by a disease, handwashing must be ensured. Healthcare workers should also make sure to wash their hands occasionally to protect themselves from getting infected by diseases.


Hand washing is a very crucial aspect in protecting oneself from various diseases. Hands can act as a medium for germs to enter the body and cause diseases. It is therefore important to wash hands regularly.

If washing hands with soap and water is not possible, washing them with a hand sanitizer should at least be ensured.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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