EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — When people tell you to do something and you think you know better, then you won’t listen, right? I mean EVERYBODY knows how to wash their hands, huh? Of course they do!

Oh! Help Rick, I’m already zoning out. This is so boring!

But in this Virtually Rick, we are covering a very important topic! You may think you’re a hand washing genius, washing your hands for a long enough time, but actually it’s likely only six to seven seconds.

Six to seven seconds!

That’s how long adults are washing their hands, according to a study from Michigan State University. That’s because when we wash our hands, we “space out." It’s dull, we’re thinking about lunch or the hot guy or girl who works in marketing. That's because it’s bor-ing!


So we need to make it exciting because handwashing can protect not just your health but can also save someone else’s life. If you can’t do it for you, do it for them.

You need to wash your hands long enough to kill bacteria and remove viruses, which is around 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer is great if you’re out and about, but handwashing is the master option.

People tend to scrub their hands more thoroughly when using soap, and it removes germs and viruses from your hands extremely effectively.


  • Wet your hands with clean running water.
  • Apply the soap.
  • Lather your hands.
  • Rub 'em together!
  • Scrub all the surfaces of your hands: palms, backs, and fingers.
  • Get between the fingers, interlock 'em, and get under your nails.
  • Do it for 20 seconds.
  • Rinse them under clean, running water.
  • Dry them using a clean towel or the air!
  • Then use a towel to stop the water.

Repeat regularly through the day before eating and after the bathroom. And just don’t touch your face, eyes or nose throughout the day. OK?

If you can, put a sign in the bathroom to remind yourself and others to do it for this length of time. There’s a reason you see signs reminding staff to wash their hands in restaurant bathrooms. It cleverly reminds the customer, too!




Need an easy way to remember how to do it? Well, say this simple phrase seven times over and your 20 seconds are done! Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry. Got it? Say it seven times! Or hum "Happy Birthday" twice or The Bee Gee’s "Stayin’ Alive," "The Imperial March" or Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars.

If my experience in the bathroom is anything like yours, lots of people AREN’T spending enough time effectively washing their hands and even if you don’t feel comfortable telling them that, you can lead by example because the more of us that wash our hands properly, the less likely we’ll need to visit the doctor.

The main truth is this: washing your hands can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16 percent, diarrheal deaths by 50 percent, and a study in London, UK estimated that if everyone washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented.

What more proof do you need that something as simple and as boring as washing your hands could be the biggest way you can make a difference in this world.