15 Things the CDC Says You Shouldn't Be Touching With Unwashed Hands

Don't risk spreading the coronavirus or infecting yourself with COVID.

Hand hygiene is an important factor is preventing the spread of the coronavirus. After all, research shows that the coronavirus can enter through your mouth, nose, and eyes—all commonly touched body parts. And if you're touching those parts with unwashed hands that are unknowingly covered in viral particles, you can easily infect yourself. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued plenty of coronavirus guidance about when you need to be washing your hands. Here are 15 things the CDC says you shouldn't touch with unwashed hands. And for more advice from the CDC, check out these 23 Cleaning Tips From the CDC You Need to Follow.

Public door handles

Businessman opening door entering office cabin

The CDC recommends that you wash your hands before entering most public spaces, especially if you have to touch public door handles. This includes restaurant door handles, store handles, and workplace door handles. And for more CDC tips, check out these 7 Things the CDC Says You Need to Have to Avoid Coronavirus.

Uncooked food

Women preparing vegetable meal for cooking, everything is so green, healthy and freshly harvested from garden. Making compost from leftovers.

If you're preparing your own food at home, you should be washing your hands before, especially if you just returned home from a trip to the grocery store. The CDC says "before preparing or eating food, it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds."

Served food

Cropped shot of a young man eating burger outdoors

If you're hosting or attending a gathering with food, the CDC encourages all guests and hosts to "wash their hands before serving or eating food." This can help prevent the virus from spreading when hanging out with other people.

Garbage cans

Young man in red sportswear throwing away rubbish. Close-up shot

The CDC considers garbage can lids high-touch surfaces. They actually recommend using touchless garbage cans, but if that is not available, they encourage the use of gloves when handling trash, and then immediately washing your hands afterwards. And for more coronavirus guidance, discover Dr. Fauci's Top 10 Tips to Keep You Safe From COVID-19.

Library books or electronics

Student holding a stack of books in a library

Any materials you get from the library are considered "shared items," according to the CDC. And since you cannot be certain how clean they are or if they were disinfected after being returned, the CDC says you should wash your hands before handling any of these items.


close-up of white hand touching ATM

While the CDC recommends using online banking during the pandemic, that's not always feasible. Alternately, you should wash your hands before visiting the ATM. If you can't wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Public pools

Man's hands holding on metallic ladder. Ready for swimming in the pool. Part of body. Point of view shot. Close up.

If you're arriving to use a public pool, the CDC says you should be doing so with freshly washed hands. You should also wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer, before eating or drinking anything when using a public pool.

Nail salon workers

A candid low angle shot of a nail salon owner painting her customer's nails.

Nail salon workers have to touch your hands to perform their services, but you need to make sure you're not subjecting them to the coronavirus. The CDC says you should wash your hands immediately before receiving service at a nail salon. And for more tips on going to the nail salon, This Is Exactly What You Should Do at a Nail Salon, According to the CDC.

Public transportation

businesswoman with protective face mask using smart phone and looking through the window while commuting by bus.

Whether you're taking the bus, train, ride share, or even using shared public bikes, the CDC encourages you to practice good hand hygiene before. That means washing your hands thoroughly before leaving to take any of those modes of transportation. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Elevator buttons

close up of man hand with watches at elavator or modern lift, pushing button.

Elevator buttons are also considered high-touch surfaces. The CDC actually recommends you avoid touching them at all—but if you must, it's best to do so with freshly washed hands. And you should also wash your hands afterwards, of course.

Car doors

Guy Opening a Car Door {Always Buy on Craigslist}

If you're out running errands, you can have the coronavirus on your hands without knowing. And if you're opening up your car door with unwashed hands, you're just allowing the virus to spread. The CDC says to only touch car doors with washed hands, or to use hand sanitizer before touching the door if you can't wash your hands.

Dirty laundry

Young woman having a laundry day

The CDC has a plethora of coronavirus laundry tips you can use to help prevent the spread of COVID through clothing. But whether you're cleaning clothes for someone who is sick or just cleaning clothes you've worn outside, you should be doing the laundry with washed hands.

Someone sick with the coronavirus

taking care of a sick coronavirus patient woman providing food

If you're caring for someone sick with the coronavirus, the best protection would be to wear gloves, according to the CDC. But if you don't have gloves, you need to come prepared with washed hands, and then wash them again after.

Used gloves

Closeup cropped portrait, healthcare professional throwing away blue disposable latex gloves in trash.lsolated lab background.infectious wastes in red bag in hospital.

The CDC doesn't recommend the use of gloves in many situations, except when you're taking care of someone sick with COVID or doing laundry. If you take those gloves off, they should be disposed of immediately and not touched later on with unwashed hands.

Your mask

A tired man adjusts his face mask while outdoors during the COVID-19 crises.

The CDC says you should always "wash your hands before putting on your mask." And if you need to adjust your mask, don't do it with unwashed hands, either.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
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