Clean Hands can Reduce the Spread of Illness

By Peter Kates


Twenty Seconds to Clean is a Univera Healthcare initiative to encourage proper handwashing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number one way to stop the spread of germs is through proper hand washing with soap and water, and that lathering for about 20 seconds has the most impact.

“Washing hands is a simple activity we perform multiple times daily, usually without thinking about it,” said Richard Vienne, D.O., Univera’s chief medical officer. “There’s a technique to make handwashing effective, and sharing that information is what Twenty Seconds to Clean is all about.” 

A 2013 study by Michigan State University researchers, published in Journal of Environmental Health, found that people only washed their hands, on average, for about six seconds — not long enough to kill germs that can cause infections. In addition, 33 percent of those surveyed didn’t use soap and 10 percent didn’t wash their hands at all.

On a positive note, the study found that people were more likely to wash their hands if a sign encouraging them to do so was present. Univera’s Twenty Seconds to Clean includes an online tool kit with a downloadable handwashing sign illustrating handwashing tips and techniques, and why they work. For kids, there’s a certificate with a handwashing pledge for them to sign. Informational videos and even links to materials designed for businesses to use as worksite reminders are at

Twenty Seconds to Clean promotes proper handwashing by lathering with soap and water for 20 seconds,” said Vienne. “Getting adults to model this behavior for their kids will create a healthy habit for life, and help stop the spread of COVID-19, the flu, and other illness.”  

View a handwashing animation at and a handwashing video at


Peter Kates is Vice President of Communications at Univera Healthcare.