It’s one of the first things mothers teach children: Wash your hands with soap and water. But experts, like Mom, say most of us are not doing it right.

Believe it or not, poor hand-washing habits are a big problem, especially in hospitals, where doctors and nurses fail to wash their hands properly half the time.

When kids and adults spread germs, you might think the worst thing is that someone may catch a cold. Wrong. Germs spread by people’s hands cause diarrheal problems, pneumonia and other deadly infections, especially in communities where clean water and soap are in short supply.

Proper hand-washing is “one of the best ways to protect ourselves and others from getting sick,” says epidemiologist Dr. Anna Bowen of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Globally we can all be doing better with hand-washing,” she says. Her studies find that children in Pakistan and China missed school less and learned more after intense instruction in hand-washing.

Ready to make your mother proud? Do it in 6 easy steps:

1. Rub hands together, palm to palm.

Illustration of two hands rubbing together and rotating (WHO)

2. Run right palm over back of left hand, interlacing fingers, and vice versa.

Illustration of two hands rubbing together up and down (WHO)

3. Rub palm to palm, with interlaced fingers.

Illustration of two hands rubbing together with interlocked fingers

4. Rub backs of fingers to opposing palms, with interlocked fingers.

Illustration of two hands rubbing together at fingers

5. Clasp right thumb in left palm for rotational rubbing and vice versa.

Illustration of hand rubbing another's thumb (WHO)

6. Using fingertips, do rotational rubbing in palm.

Illustration of hand rubbing its fingertips in another's palm (WHO)