Icon Based on Science BASED ON SCIENCE
Home Acknowledgments

Prevent the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands often

CLAIM: Washing your hands helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

True. Handwashing is one of many important things you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.

Soap destroys the novel coronavirus.

Washing with soap and water dissolves the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

  • Soap bubbles break apart coronaviruses. Scrubbing for 20 seconds and rinsing well is the best way to get the virus off your hands.
  • Any soap will work. Bar soap or liquid soap—they work equally well.
  • Warm or cold water is fine. The water should be comfortable (not scalding hot).



Washing with soap and water is better than using hand sanitizer.

Use hand sanitizer if you are not near a sink. Otherwise, soap and water is best.

  • Hand sanitizer dissolves coronaviruses. However, it does not kill as many other types of germs as washing with soap and water.
  • Hand sanitizer may not work as well if your hands are dirty or greasy.
  • If you use hand sanitizer, make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol. Rub it all over your hands until your hands feel dry.
  • Be sure the hand sanitizer is not on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's list of hand sanitizers that should not be used. These hand sanitizers have been found to contain toxic ingredients.



It is important to wash often and wash correctly.

If you're healthy, washing your hands can keep you from getting sick. If you’re sick, it can keep you from passing the illness to others.



There's a lot you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19.

You can take action to protect yourself and others.

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, not your hand.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially when your hands aren’t clean or have touched a surface that isn’t clean.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Stay home if possible.


Published on: April 15, 2020
Last updated: July 29, 2020