Handwashing – how to do it right
March 2020   HEALTHCARE

Handwashing – how to do it right

It’s been proven that handwashing is an extremely effective way to ward off germs and protect yourself from illness and disease.
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It’s recommended that you regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, before drying them thoroughly, helping to remove dirt, germs, viruses, and bacteria that might otherwise spread and cause illness.1


There are times and places where handwashing is particularly important:1,2:

  • When your hands look dirty
  • When preparing food or before you eat
  • When visiting hospitals
  • After visiting public spaces or using public transport
  • After using the toilet
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • After touching animals
  • When you have been coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
  • Whilst caring for the young, sick, or elderly

During pandemics or periods of widespread disease, handwashing is crucial in limiting the spread of germs.2

To wash your hands effectively, follow these steps1,3:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water, then turn off the tap
  2. Apply enough soap to cover both hands completely
  3. Rub your palms together
  4. Rub your right palm over the top of your left hand, with your fingers interlaced
  5. Clean between your fingers, then repeat the other way round, with your left palm over your right hand. Then put your palms together with fingers interlaced and rub
  6. Bend your fingers and clasp your hands together, with the backs of your fingers against the palm of your other hand
  7. Rub each thumb with the palm of the other hand
  8. Clean your fingertips and under your nails and clean each palm with the fingers of the other hand, through rubbing clockwise, anti-clockwise, backwards and forwards
  9. Turn on the tap and rinse your hands with water
  10. Dry well with a towel
  11. Turn off the tap using your elbow or a paper towel
  12. They’re clean!

Alcohol-based hand sanitiser or gel which contains 60% alcohol or more can also be used in addition to regular use of soap and water or when running water and soap are not available. It shouldn’t be used to replace regular handwashing, as hand sanitisers don’t remove all germs and don’t work as well with hands that are greasy or look dirty.1   


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Continue reading

For more hand hygiene advice, check out this blog article.


1 How to wash your hands. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/. Accessed March 16, 2020.

2 Best Practice – How to Hand Wash. National Infection Prevention and Control Manual. http://www.nipcm.hps.scot.nhs.uk/appendices/appendix-1-best-practice-how-to-hand-wash/. Accessed March 16, 2020.

3 Keeping hands clean. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/hand/handwashing.html. Accessed March 16, 2020.

4 Everything you need to know about washing your hands to protect against coronavirus (COVID-19). Unicef. https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/everything-you-need-know-about-washing-your-hands-protect-against-coronavirus-covid-19. Accessed March 16, 2020.

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