Washing your hands and personal cleanliness
When preparing or serving food, you have a very important job in providing safe food for family and friends.
- Wash your hands adequately with warm water and soap. Wet your hands, soap them, then, rub your palms and the back of your hands for at least twenty seconds.
- Do not forget your nails and the areas between your fingers. If you use hands to mix food, first wash them with a brush and get under your fingernails.
- Rinse under running water from your wrist to the tip of your fingers.
- Dry your hands with paper towels and use a towel to turn the faucet off, because sometimes dirty hands open the faucet.
- Food can be good to the point of licking your fingers, but licking your fingers is not good for food. Do not sample your food with a spoon unless it is clean and used only once.
- Do not wear rings or other jewelry when preparing food. Dirt sticks to cracks and corners. If you have scabs, cuts or burned hands, use disposable plastic gloves to prevent germ spread.
- Keep clean hands out of your mouth, nose and hair. Cover sneezes and coughs with a clean tissue and wash your hands again.
- After using the bathroom, always wash your hands before returning to the food.
- When you have a cold or flu stay away from the kitchen if you can. If you must handle food be very careful about washing your hands. Use utensils instead of your hands when working with food.
- Always wash your hands after touching garbage, poison, cleaning supplies, or anything that gets your hands dirty. This rule also applies to contact with animals or pets, their dishes or bedding.
- Even if your kitchen is so clean that someone can “eat off of the floor,” do not pick food up to eat. Do not mix it with non-contaminated food.
- Use one teaspoon of household bleach, such as Clorox, in one quart of water to sanitize counter tops and sinks. Mix a fresh mixture daily.
In summary, use correct kitchen habits and learn to practice good personal hygiene. Dirty kitchens, bad personal hygiene or careless food handling, can carry bacteria that infect food and cause foodborne illnesses.
The information given in this publication is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by University of Minnesota Extension is implied.
Reviewed by Kathy Brandt, University of Minnesota Extension educator, 2013.