You're probably washing your hands completely wrong

Washing your hands is more important than you think. "Your hands carry almost all your germs to your respiratory tract," Dr. Adit Ginde, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, explained to The New York Times. And if you don't keep them clean, they could put you at risk of illness as well as other people you come into contact with. But there's no point washing your hands if you're not going to wash them properly.

First, when washing your hands, you need to get into the habit of doing more than simply getting them wet. "I see people in the bathroom just put their hands under a stream of water, no soap, and they consider themselves washed," Philip Tierno, Ph.D., clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Health, told LiveStrong. "It's not about getting water on you — it's about removing particles," he added. In other words, you need to make sure you always use soap.

To wash your hands correctly, you need to work up a lather

Another common mistake people make when washing their hands is not working up a proper lather. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also known as the CDC), you need to wet your hands with cold or warm running water, work up a lather, then give them a good scrub for at least 20 seconds (a good trick is to sing the "Happy Birthday" song in your head twice). 

Why 20 seconds? "Twenty seconds has been shown to be the minimum amount of time it takes to really remove germs," family physician Dr. Sarah Borwein, M.D., explained to INSIDER. Aim to get into every crease and nook, focusing on your nails. After scrubbing your hands, you need to rinse them well under running water, then make sure you actually dry them with an air drier or clean towel. As the CDC points out, if your hands are wet they are more likely to attract germs.