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Hand Hygiene: How to Wash Your Hands Effectively

Curious about hand hygiene and the right hand washing technique? Our guide will tell you how to wash your hands properly and maintain hand hygiene.


hand hygiene

A proper hand washing technique is the easiest way to keep your family and home clean. Each person in your home handles items with their hands, such as pets, faces, food, doorknobs and bathrooms, so they get in contact with a lot of bacteria that can cause cross-contamination, leading to colds, infections and other illnesses.

If you’re interested in updating your hand washing technique, read our top tips on the right hand washing steps.

Clean your hands with soap and water after typically dirty tasks, such as when the little ones finish football practice or when you’re done dicing meat for your fatta. Teach your children about the importance of hand hygiene from a young age so the habit of hand washing can stick.

How to Wash Your Hands

You’ve probably already got this one down, right? Rinse, apply soap, rub hands together and rinse off. Sound about right?

The truth is, if you want to make sure your hands are properly and thoroughly cleaned, then you need to make sure that you’re doing more than just giving them a quick rinse.

Kids and younger family members might not be as diligent as you are when it comes to hand washing, and they might require assistance and guidance as well. So it’s always important to brush up on your hand washing steps and technique, both for yourself and your family.

  1. Get your hands wet with cold or warm water and then apply a sufficient amount of soap to get suds all over your hands.
  2. Rub your hands vigorously and make some bubbles –the kids will love this part! Then, use one hand to rub the top of the other and get in between your fingers. Afterwards, switch hands.
  3. Get your fingers intertwined, palm-to-palm and make sure to wash the base of each finger.
  4. Use your right hand to make a fist around your left thumb and gently twist back and forth. Afterwards, switch hands.
  5. Use either your hand or a bristled brush to make sure to clean under your fingernails and around your cuticles.
  6. With a clean towel or hand dryer, dry your hands well – don’t just use your pants; you don’t know what kind of bacteria could be on them!

If you’re somewhere where you can’t find a sink to wash your hands, apply hand sanitizer using those exact same movements. This is a great hand washing technique for when your kids finish playing and have to wait to get home to wash up.

How Long Should You Wash Your Hands For?

Naturally, the time you spend washing your hands depends on how dirty they are. Sometimes you wash your hands after a messy task, while other times you just wash up before cooking dinner for the family. The rule of thumb here is that the process should take around 20 seconds.

If you’ve been handling raw meat or cleaning up around the house, then your hands may be dirtier than usual. In this case, you may need to repeat the process a few times to make sure your hands are completely clean.

When to Practice Hand Hygiene

You should always wash your hands on a regular basis for your health, but it’s particularly important after getting in contact with germs or microscopic bacteria.

The most essential times to wash your hands are before and after you complete certain tasks.

Wash your hands before:

  • Handling, cooking or preparing food. Don’t forget to wash your hands throughout the process as well
  • Eating, whether you’re at home, or at a restaurant or dinner party
  • Treating a wound, cut, skin irritation or abrasion
  • Visiting someone at the hospital

Wash your hands after:

  • Using the bathroom
  • Handling raw meat or poultry
  • Coughing, sneezing…etc.
  • Petting animals –even if they’re household pets
  • Taking out the rubbish or cleaning the house
  • Changing a diaper
  • Helping an injured person
  • Visiting someone at the hospital

Now that you know everything about hand hygiene, it’s time to pass on the right way to wash your hands to the entire family – especially kids.

A good way to help kids get used to the process is to do it together. Practice singing the Happy Birthday song twice in a row together while you’re washing your hands. By the time you’re done singing, their hands will be ultra clean and they’ll make a habit of it!

Originally published