It’s flu season, and there’s nothing like all the news about the flu outbreak in the San Quentin Prison this past week to motivate me to wash my hands. Often. And thoroughly.

This seems like such a small thing, but the when it comes down to it, a lot of Everday Wellness is about the basic everyday things we do. Wash our hands. Brush our teeth. Eat healthy foods. Laugh with friends. Take a walk–get some exercise.

happy handsSo, back to happy hands. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effective hand-washing involves washing your hands in warm water with soap by rubbing your hands together for 20 seconds. How long is that? Imagine singing–or actually sing out loud–“Happy Birthday” twice through to a friend. (Read more: CDC Clean Hands Campaign)

There’s a lot of talk about the pros and cons of anti-bacterial soap and anti-bacterial hand sanitizers. My personal recommendation is to use anti-bacterial hand sanitizers only when water and soap aren’t available, and to prefer thorough hand-washing with regular soap, rather than use anti-bacterial soaps. (Ideal Bite has tips on soaps and hand-sanitizers that offer more info.  ADDED 1/16/07: Here’s more on planet-friendly hand sanitizers.)

And if you need another reason to take the full 20 seconds to wash your hands, think of it as a 20-second acupressure massage. There are many acupressure points on your hand, so give an extra squeeze on each finger while you wash away unwelcome germs.