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In this March 4, 2020, photo, Maria Casal Hernandez, RN., left, helps Maria Castro wash her hands at Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers of Dade County, Inc., in Miami. The new coronavirus is posing a special challenge for nursing homes and other facilities that provide care for the elderly. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

We’re all experts on hand-washing now:  Hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds.  But a lot of people don’t know that DRYING your hands is an important step too.

This won’t matter as much if you’re hunkered down at home.  But for people who still have to venture out in the world, it’s important.

When your hands are wet . . . or even damp . . . they pick up more germs than when they’re totally dry.  So if you touch something like a doorknob with damp hands, you’re more likely to get sick.

Studies have found that drying off with a towel also REMOVES more germs than just washing alone does.  Washing does the heavy lifting.  But the friction from the towel helps too, as long as it’s clean.

The one thing you don’t want to do in public bathrooms is use the hand dryers.  They tend to kick up a lot of germs into the air, or blow them back onto your hands.

That’s why experts say to use paper towels in public bathrooms if they’re available, and carry a few tissues in your pocket in case they’re not.

You can avoid touching the door handle directly by using a paper towel to open it.  Just prop it open with your foot, so you can throw the towel away.