The One Mistake You Shouldn't Make When Washing Your Hands

How you dry your hands is equally as important as how you wash them.

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Washing your hands should always be part of your personal hygiene, but it's especially important now, amid the coronavirus pandemic. One of the first guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined how to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. While you probably have the hand-washing part down, we bet you've made this one crucial mistake when drying your hands: You're using a cloth towel instead of a paper towel.

Because paper towels are thrown away, there's less risk of cross-contamination, unlike reusable towels. According to commercial bathroom products supplier One Point Partitions, "If multiple people use the same cloth towel to dry their hands and one of them hasn't cleaned their hands appropriately or they touched a contaminated surface before they dried their hands, every subsequent person who uses the same towel will pick up germs during the hand drying process."

One Point Partitions adds that "because users will throw out their paper towels after they dry their hands, paper towels don't have the same risk of cross-contamination." The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends that you use single-use towels to dry your hands.

Person using a paper towel dispenser
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Once you're done drying off, "use a paper towel to touch any surfaces—doors, faucets—in the bathroom before exiting," Taylor Graber, MD, a resident physician at UC San Diego, previously told Best Life.

This last step is essential as faucet handles and doorknobs are two of the dirtiest touch points.

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In fact, the faucet handles in your kitchen and bathroom contain so much bacteria that they were ranked the sixth germiest place in your home, according to the National Sanitation Foundation. And for more hygiene errors you should avoid, here's how You Haven't Been Rubbing in Your Hand Sanitizer Correctly, CDC Says.

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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