How to Stop Spreading Germs in the Kitchen

You can contaminate multiple surfaces in just seconds. Learn how to stop the spread of bacteria.

Mother and son cooking in the kitchenIt’s easy to contaminate everything you touch in the kitchen, especially when handling raw meat. The best way to stop the spread of harmful bacteria is to wash your hands. In fact, the #1 cause of cross-contamination is improper hand washing.

Here’s how to wash your hands properly:


  • Wet your hands under warm running water and then apply soap.
  • Scrub the top of your hands, palms, forearms (up to your elbows), and in between your fingers for 20 seconds—or the time it takes to sing the song “Happy Birthday”.
  • Use a nail brush to scrub the area around and under your nails because your nails may also harbor bacteria.
  • Rinse off the soap under running water, but don’t turn off the faucet yet.


  • Keep the water running as you dry your hands with a paper towel.
  • Because the faucet may be contaminated from touching it earlier, turn it off using the paper towel.

If you have cuts on your hands or fingers, make sure they’re bandaged and secure bandages by wearing a glove when cooking. Just be aware of what your gloved hand touches to prevent cross-contamination.

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Review Date: July 09, 2016
Reviewed By: Mike McCombe; Chef, Certified Food Safety Educator
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