Are You Singing Happy Birthday When You Wash Your Hands?

wash+hands Are You Singing Happy Birthday When You Wash Your Hands?Earlier this week, Mama Spoiled Pretty called to check in…for the seventeenth time that day. I was just finishing washing my hands, and I told her so – as we have a TMI relationship. Then, she asked me what seemed like the most inane question ever…

“Did you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ while you washed your hands?”

Huh? What in the world does the Happy Birthday song have to do with hand-washing?

She explained that singing the song in your head ensures that you’re spending an adequate amount of time sudsing up.

Just to make sure this wasn’t some ‘gang members are killing people in Walmart parking lots’-esque urban legend that’s been debunked on snopes.com, I did a little investigative journalism. And it turns out that Mama Spoiled Pretty is a know-it-all, tough as it is to admit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when washing your hands with soap and water:

  • Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
  • Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
  • Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice through to a friend!
  • Rinse hands well under running water
  • Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet

The CDC also recommends hand-washing in the following situations:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom
  • Before and after tending to someone who is sick
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After handling an animal or animal waste
  • After handling garbage
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound

If soap and water aren’t available, use alcohol-based gel to clean hands.

Photo: Getty Images

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