Keeping your hands clean, and using soap and water after dirty tasks, can make a huge difference to your family’s health. The earlier your children learn about hand hygiene, the better.
One of the easiest ways to keep your home and your family clean is a good hand-washing routine. We all come into contact with so many items using our hands: just think doorknobs, pets, food, bathrooms and so much more. You can easily experience cross-contamination that leads to colds, infections, and other illnesses – just through poor hand hygiene.
Check out our top tips for the best hand washing procedures so you can soap-up correctly every time.
How to Wash Hands
You probably already have a technique that works for you. Apply soap or hand wash, rub your hands together, and rinse, right?
If you really want to wash your hands properly, you’ll need to make sure you’re not just giving them a quick splash under the tap. Kids especially might need a little help with their hand washing, so it’s important to be able to hand down the right information.
- Wet your hands with cold or warm water and apply enough soap or hand wash to get the suds covering the entire surface of your hands.
- Create some bubbles by rubbing your hands vigorously, palm to palm. Make sure one hand passes over the top of the other, going in between fingers, then switch hands.
- Interlace your fingers with palms touching and get in between the base of your fingers.
- Grab your left thumb with a fist and twist it gently back and forth before switching hands and repeating.
- Clean under your fingernails and around your cuticles using either a bristled brush or your hand.
- Dry your hands well using a clean towel or a hand dryer – not your pants!
If you can’t get to a sink with soap, you can apply the exact same method with a soapless hand sanitiser.
How Long Should I Wash My Hands For?
The amount of time you spend washing your hands depends on how dirty they are. If it’s a simple freshen-up, it should only take you about 20 seconds to complete the entire procedure.
If your hands are dirtier from working outside, it might be best to repeat that procedure a few times and spend a little more time at the sink.
When to Practice Hand Hygiene
The whole point of washing your hands is to stop the spread of infection and germs, so it makes sense to do it at any point that you’ve come in contact with them.
Before and after you perform certain tasks is the best time to practise good hand hygiene.
This means giving your hands a wash before:
- Cooking or preparing food. (You should even give them a wash during this process.)
- Eating. (Both at home or out at a restaurant.)
- Treating a cut, wound, or abrasion.
- Visiting a hospital or stepping into a hospital room
- Going to the toilet
- Handling raw meat
- Coughing or sneezing
- Patting animals
- Taking the rubbish out or cleaning
- Changing a nappy
- Working in the garden
- Helping somebody who’s injured
- Visiting a hospital
Now that you know the best hand washing procedures, make sure you pass them on to your family – especially kids.
One great technique for teaching kids is to practise by doing the techniques and singing the Happy Birthday song twice in a row. This way they won’t see it as a chore – and they’ll be completely clean by the time they’ve finished singing.