Can Washing Your Hands Reduce the Risk of Viral Infections?

One common suggestion is to wash your hands frequently, but does this actually work?

Can Washing Your Hands Reduce the Risk of Viral Infections?
Photo by Mélissa Jeanty / Unsplash

With the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, many people are wondering if there are ways to reduce their risk of viral infections. One common suggestion is to wash your hands frequently, but does this actually work? The short answer is yes, washing your hands can significantly reduce the risk of viral infections.

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How Does Washing Your Hands Help?

Viruses are tiny, infectious agents that can be spread through various means, including contact with contaminated objects and surfaces, or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. When we touch our face, mouth, or eyes after coming into contact with a contaminated surface, we can accidentally introduce the virus into our body.

Washing your hands effectively removes the virus from your hands, reducing the likelihood that you will accidentally transfer it to your face or to other surfaces. This is especially important if you have come into contact with someone who is infected, or if you have been in a public place where the virus may be present.

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

Proper hand washing involves more than just a quick rinse under the tap. Follow these steps to wash your hands effectively:

  1. Wet your hands with warm water.
  2. Apply soap and lather well, making sure to cover all surfaces of your hands, including between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds, making sure to scrub all surfaces of your hands.
  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly under warm running water.
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.

Other Tips for Reducing the Risk of Viral Infections

In addition to washing your hands regularly, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk of viral infections:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your face, mouth, or eyes, especially if you have not washed your hands recently.
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops, to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as towels or utensils, with others.


Washing your hands regularly is an important step in reducing your risk of viral infections, including the Ebola virus. By following proper hand washing techniques and taking other precautions, you can help protect yourself and others from the spread of infectious diseases.

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For more information on the Ebola outbreak, visit and Follow us on Twitter @ebola_cases for updates and news on the latest developments.