We see hand sanitizer everywhere and many of us take travel bottles with us wherever we go. That's good. If you're not near an actual restroom where you can wash your hands with soap and water, it can be a crucial alternative.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is always more ideal to wash your hands with soap and water. You also want to make sure you scrub for a minimum of twenty seconds and take care to get the both the front and back of your hands, between your fingers. If you can, remove any jewelry, too. Just don't forget to grab it once you're done. I've had a couple of panicky moments when I realized I'd left a ring sitting on the sink. Don't forget to wash under your nails, too. That's where a lot of germs may lodge.

Surprisingly though, the water doesn't have to be "soup hot." According to the CDC, water temperature doesn't really make a big difference.

Why does using soap and water make such a big difference? The CDC says it just does a superior job of cleansing your hands from germs such as the highly contagious norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and the infectious C. difficile. Another study revealed washing with soap and water may be better for getting rid of the flu virus.

Again though, if you're unable to get to an actual sink or if you work in a field where you need to quickly sanitize your hands, hand sanitizer is important. The CDC suggests using a product that is at least 60% alcohol. Make sure you rub it into your skin until dry.

If you want to stay well over the holiday season, don't skip washing or sanitizing hands--it can make all the difference.

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