Do you know how to clean hands properly? To prevent the spread of germs and infections, keeping your hands clean and hygienic is the most important thing that you can do. It is particularly crucial to practise stringent hand hygiene in healthcare environments, and it’s for this reason that the World Health Organisation (WHO) holds its ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’ global campaign day each year on 5th May to raise awareness of proper hand hygiene for health workers, which WHO says has saved millions of lives in the last few years.
How to clean hands properly:
- Wet hands with water.
- Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces.
- Rub hands palm to palm.
- Right palm over left dorsum with interlaced fingers and vice versa.
- Palm to palm with fingers interlaced.
- Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked.
- Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa.
- Rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa.
- Rinse hands with water.
- Dry hands thoroughly with a single use towel.
- Use towel to turn off faucet.
- Your hands are now safe.
There are two different ways to clean your hands: handrubbing, using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, or handwashing, with an antibacterial soap and water. Both of these are effective methods of cleaning your hands, but according to WHO guidelines, there are different times when each is more appropriate.
Handwashing should be used when your hands are visibly dirty or soiled, when you have come into contact with any bodily fluids, and after using the toilet. At almost every other time, thorough handrubbing is adequate to sanitise your hands and ensure that you are contributing to a safe and clean environment. It’s also faster and therefore more effective overall for controlling the spread of germs and infections.