Effective hygiene habits for the whole family

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

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.

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