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Hand Washing Signs: Frequently Asked Questions


Yes, handwashing with soap has been scientifically proven to prevent the spread of infections. Dirty hands are great carriers of germs. By frequently touching our eyes, nose, and mouth, these germs can go inside the body and cause an infection.

Germs can spread rapidly - 

  • - to the hands by sneezing, coughing, or rubbing the eyes and then can be transferred to other people.
  • - from unwashed hands to food while preparing or consuming contaminated food.
  • - from contaminated hands to frequently touched surfaces, like handrails, tabletops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hand

As per CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention), hand washing helps prevent diarrhea, gastrointestinal illness, respiratory infections and may even prevent skin and eye infections. 


Handwashing laws are state-specific in America. You will have to check with your state or local health department for any handwashing requirements included in their health codes. To comply with the state health standards, it may be necessary for employers/property owners to ensure everyone washes hands in their facility. Many states follow FDA’s food code that requires hand washing by food-handling employees. Such laws are mostly applicable to the healthcare or food industry.

For example - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation on Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, 29 CFR 1910.1030, requires that "employers shall provide handwashing facilities which are readily accessible to employees" and "ensure that employees wash their hands immediately or as soon as feasible after removal of gloves or other personal protective equipment".

  1. 1. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  2. 2. Apply soap and lather well by rubbing your hands for 20 seconds (Don’t forget the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers, and under your fingernails)
  3. 3. Thoroughly rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  4. 4. Completely dry your hands with a clean towel, an air dryer, or a paper towel.

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing is more effective than hand sanitization. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% of alcohol content are effective in controlling bacteria on hands in some situations but not eliminate all types of germs. Also, hand sanitizers are not sufficient in cleaning heavily soiled hands, such as after people handle food, play sports, work in the garden, or go camping or fishing.

Properly washing hands with soap and water removes caked-on dirt and grime better than hand sanitizers. In fact, hand sanitizers can be used as an added step after washing hands to ensure that hands are thoroughly cleaned.


Many people are simply forgetful or complacent to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before and after eating meals or preparing food. Therefore, handwashing can be promoted through behavioral science. Posting Hand Washing Signs in places where you generally have to wash hands after engaging in an activity is an effective solution. Generic handwashing signs must be installed in -

  • - Bathrooms
  • - Near handwashing sinks
  • - Kitchen/Food Preparation Area
  • - Dining rooms 

Some of the specific facilities where hand washing signs are necessary are -

  • - Restaurants
  • - Hospitals/Laboratories
  • - Day Care Centers
  • - Schools
  • - Meat Shops/Poultry Handling Areas
  • - Barns/Farms/Animal Handling Places
  • - Workplaces
  • - Cafeterias

A mobile hand washing station should include the following things -

  1. 1. Clean running, drinkable water
  2. 2. Soap
  3. 3. A way to dry hands like paper or cloth towels
  4. 4. Trash Can if paper towels are provided
  5. 5. Handwashing signage
  • - By posting healthy reminders like “Please Wash Your Hands" or "Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning To Work". 
  • - Reward employees for good behavior. Implement a Hand Hygiene Star Employee of the Month program.
  • - Along with signs, you can even take the help of bathroom mats with messages like “Wash Your Hands”.
  • - By raising hand hygiene awareness through posters showing the steps of hand washing.
  • - Make handwashing sinks, soap, clean water, a way to dry hands, no-touch/foot pedal trash cans, and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol very accessible and well maintained foremployees.
  • - Choose attractive and quality handwashing products employees will want to use. 
  • - By conducting regular training and conveying facts about non hand washing and showing the proper way to wash hands.

Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 20 seconds is the safe time limit to remove harmful germs and chemicals from your hands. A shorter time may not be sufficient enough to remove all germs. 

This is because hands have a lot of cracks and crevices. Viruses thrive on being able to inhabit tiny spaces, abundant on the hands. 

Washing for 20 seconds gives the soap and water molecules enough time to get into all of these spaces. Therefore, scrub all areas of your hands, including palms, backs of the hands, between the fingers, and under the fingernails in 20 seconds.

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