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Hand washing: It's all in the technique

Thursday - 5/9/2013, 5:11pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important things you can do to to combat the spread of disease. Some people use alcohol-based hand sanitizers; others swear by old-fashioned soap and water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that soap and running water is best (and that hand sanitizers should be at least 60 percent alcohol). But whatever you use, they say, the most important factor is your technique.

The CDC says you need to rub every portion of your hands vigorously, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. And make sure you go at it for at least 20 to 30 seconds - think of it as long enough to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.

If you use a hand sanitizer, you need to squirt on enough to rub it over all surfaces of your fingers and hands. And keep rubbing until your hands are dry.

For more facts and advice about hand washing, go to the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing.

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