How to keep your hands extra clean (and avoid dry skin) during the coronavirus outbreak

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to wash their hands and disinfect surfaces, as it is the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Since the first case was discovered in December 2019, it has infected 121,000 people and killed 4,300 worldwide.

While many people wash their hands, according to experts, a good portion of people are doing it incorrectly, rendering it useless against the spread of the coronavirus.

Insider compiled a list of the best tips on how to properly wash your hands.


The water you’re using should be cold or lukewarm, not boiling hot.

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Using cold or lukewarm water rather than boiling hot water is important because hot water can dry out your hands and doesn’t sanitize your hands any more than colder water.

“Many people believe that hotter water is better, but in fact, for the purposes of removing germs, there is no good evidence that water temperature matters,” family physician Dr. Sarah Borwein, MD., told Insider. “Using hot water can dry the hands out and lead to skin damage, so the recommendation is to use cold or warm water.”


Wash your hand with soap and rinse with water.

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The first step to properly wash your hands is to wet them with lukewarm or cold water. Then, apply soap and scrub thoroughly by rubbing it between your hands to produce a nice, thick lather.

Apply the lather to the back and side of your hands, as well as in between the fingers, and especially under the fingernails.

Anti-bacterial soap will make no difference in terms of cleaning more thoroughly according to the CDC.


Wash your hands for 20 seconds.

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Make sure that before you rinse, you thoroughly wash you hands for 20 seconds or longer. Any less time will make your hand washing less effective and is not guaranteed to kills all germs.


If you have trouble keeping track of time, singing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice or the chorus of ‘Juicy’ by Doja Cat is about the same length.

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Sometimes, counting to 20 in your head can be inaccurate so singing a song can be useful. While the “Happy Birthday” song sung twice or “The Wheels on the Bus” are popular choices, other options are more adult-friendly.

The choruses to “Juicy” by Doja Cat, “Love on Top” by Beyoncé, and “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo are all great options.


Washing your hands more frequently may lead to dry skin, so make sure to moisturize properly.

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

If your hands are feeling tight, scratcy and dry after washing your hands so frequently, you should consider moisturizing with lotion to protect your skin.

When your hands are still damp, apply lotion in a similar fashion to rubbing your hands with soap.

Put some on the palms and backs of your hands, through your fingers, and even on your wrists.


Finally, drying your hands is a crucial last step.

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While washing your hands is extremely important in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, drying them is equally important – as wet hands breed bacteria.

According to experts, paper towels are the best method of drying your hands, as they dispose of the bacteria you dry on them, while air dryers are generally the worst.

Cloth towels are more common in households and can be used with caveats. Each person should have their own cloth towel and they should be replaced every few days.