Breaking News
More () »

Greensboro's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Greensboro, North Carolina | WFMYNEWS2.com

VERIFY: Yes, The 20-Second Hand Washing Rule Does The Trick

You ask; we VERIFY. Turns out, it does take at least 20 seconds of good hand washing to rid germs.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Wash your hands -- and don't get sick. By now, you know the monotonous phrase by heart. But instead of discarding it in the "duh" pile, really think about how and for how long you are washing your hands.


Good Morning Show anchor Tracey McCain mentioned she always had heard about the "20 second" rule. You must wash your hands for 20 seconds, otherwise your hands will not get clean. She asked her co-anchor Meghann Mollerus to VERIFY if the 20-second rule is true.



The CDC and Mayo Clinic confirm the claim is true...if done properly.

In a video, the CDC shows the thoroughness and efficiency of the 20-second routine.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold).
  • Apply and lather soap.
  • Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds (or sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice). Scrub all surfaces, including the backs of hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or air-dry them.

The CDC shows a before and after comparison of hands beneath the blue light. The 20-second routine appears to have rid the hands of the germs.

Mayo Clinic notes children tend to rush hand washing, so parents should wash their hands with them to show them how to do it properly. Wash for as long as it takes them to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. 

What if you don't have easy access to soap and water? Mayo Clinic confirms alcohol-based hand sanitizers are an acceptable alternative, if soap and water are unavailable. But, the sanitizer needs to have at least 60 percent alcohol, and you need enough to make sure your hands feel wet.

Whether hand washing or sanitizing, make sure to do it often. The CDC says people rub their eyes and touch their noses 25 times every hour without realizing it, so their hands pick up a lot of germs.


As long as you rinse, lather, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse again and dry, the 20-second hand washing rule should keep away germs and icky illnesses.

RELATED: Flu 2019: What You Need to Know To Protect Yourself

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit a post or selfie video to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

E-mail: Mmollerus@wfmy.com

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus