You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

• Before, during, and after preparing food
• Before and after eating food
• Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
• 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 pet treats
• After touching garbage

The guidance for the list of key times to wash hands was developed based on data from a number of studies. There can also be other times when it is important to wash hands.

To prevent the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should also wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean hands BEFORE and AFTER:

• Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
• Touching your mask
• Entering and leaving a public place
• Touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens

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