From time to time, it helps to remind ourselves to focus on the task at hand—and when you’re washing that hand, it’s extra important! Hand-washing is among the top suggestions for making sure you don’t catch what your clients and team members bring into the salon—or what those people sneezing on the bus or in the grocery store are spreading.

Dr. James Malow, an infectious disease specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, lists five common slip-ups you may be making during your hand-washing routine:

  1. Too quick. Thorough hand-washing takes 15 to 20 seconds. The traditional advice to sing two rounds of “Happy Birthday” still applies.
  2. Not frequently enough. Wash your hands after every time you visit the restroom, handle garbage or touch surfaces in a public place. No matter how often you’ve washed that day, repeat the washing before you eat.
  3. Touching bathroom surfaces. This is tricky! Bathroom surfaces are hot spots for germs, so after washing your hands in a public restroom, use a clean towel to turn off the tap and open the door when you leave. At home, you can do the same if a family member is sick.
  4. Insufficient drying. Germs thrive in moisture, so even if you’ve washed with soap you’re not home free until you’ve thoroughly dried your hands.
  5. Bothering with antibacterial soap. When used properly, any soap is effective at killing germs. Since there are some concerns that antibacterial soaps may contribute to a rise in drug-resistant bacteria and the growth of liver tumors, you’re better off avoiding these soaps.
“Clean hands save lives,” Dr. Malow says. “Hand-washing is simple, effective and proven to help avoid the spread of illness like the flu. Pay attention to how you’re washing, and you’ll effectively protect yourself and those around you.”
— Rosanne Ullman
This story first appeared on

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.