Updated: Jan 26
Although hand washing might seem like a simple task, you should follow these steps to thoroughly rid your hands of germs.
What kind of soap to use
Use plain soap that does not contain antibacterial agents. Plain soap will remove the dirt and grease that attract bad bacteria.
Plain soap will not kill the good bacteria that live on the hands.
Using antibacterial products unnecessarily increases the concentration of antibiotics in the water supply and in the environment and may contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Steps when using soap
Remove any hand or arm jewellery you may be wearing.
Wet your hands with warm water.
Apply plain soap to your hands and rub together for 20 seconds (the length of time it takes to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Happy Birthday)
Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
Rinse your hands well for 10 seconds under warm running water, using a rubbing motion.
Wipe and dry your hands gently with a paper towel or a clean towel. Drying them vigorously can damage the skin.
Turn off the tap using the paper towel so that you do not re-contaminate your hands. When using a public bathroom, use the same paper towel to open the door when you leave.
If skin dryness is a problem, use a moisturizing lotion.
Steps when using alcohol-based hand rubs
These products need to be at least 60% alcohol to be effective, so check the label.
Alcohol-based hand rubs do not cause antibiotic resistance.
Alcohol-based hand rubs kill many bacteria and viruses, but are not effective against some of the germs that cause diarrhea.
Alcohol-based hand rubs are quick to use. They are especially convenient when soap and water are not available.
Alcohol-based hand rubs don’t work if your hands are greasy or visibly dirty. These products don’t clean your hands and are not a substitute for handwashing. If your hands are visibly soiled, it is best to use soap and water.
If it's not possible to wash with soap and water, use towelettes to remove the soil, then use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Make sure your hands are dry, as wet hands will dilute the alcohol-based hand product.
Use enough of the product to cover all the surfaces of your hands and fingers.
Rub your hands together until the product has evaporated.
If dry skin is a problem, use a moisturizing lotion.
Alcohol-based hand rubs are safe for children if used with supervision. Alcohol-based hand rubs are poisonous if ingested. Children should not put their hands in their mouths until the alcohol evaporates (about 15 seconds).
Wall dispensers and containers of alcohol-based hand rubs should be placed so they cannot be reached by small children.
Alcohol-based hand rubs are flammable and should not be stored near a source of heat.