Washing your hands can help keep you healthy and reduce the spread of germs. But just running your soapy hands under the faucet isn’t good enough: If you want to achieve maximum cleanliness, there’s a six-step hand washing technique you should try out. Gizmodo reports that the six-step technique is promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO), and now, scientifically proven to be the most effective way to wash your hands.

According to a study published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology earlier this month, the WHO-promoted method (explained in the video below) is more effective at reducing bacterial count than the three-step hand washing strategy suggested by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University observed 42 doctors and 78 nurses at a teaching hospital in Glasgow. After splitting their volunteers into two hand washing groups, both of which washed using an alcohol-based solution, they analyzed post-hand washing bacterial buildup. The researchers found that while the six-step technique reduced median microbial count from 3.28 to 2.58 CFU/mL, the three-step reduced it only from 3.08 to 2.88 CFU/mL.

“The study provides the first evidence in a randomized controlled trial that the six-step technique is superior, thus these international guidance documents should consider this evidence, as should healthcare organizations using the three-step technique in practice,” the researchers explained.

Researchers also found that the six-step technique took 15 percent more time (less than 10 seconds) than the three-step, and that, in general, many of the volunteers struggled to properly complete all of the steps of each hand washing technique. However, they argue that, while it may be more complicated and time-consuming to complete the full six-step hand washing technique, it’s also the most effective strategy to make sure your hands are as clean as they can be.

[h/t Gizmodo]