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The best technique for washing your hands

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The best technique for washing your hands

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Washing your hands properly is an often overlooked but important skill. Effective hand washing is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of bacteria and illness.

When should you wash your hands?

• Before eating or handling food;
• After using the toilet;
• After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
• After touching animals or animal waste;
• After handling rubbish;
• After changing a nappy;
• Before and after touching a sick or injured person;
• Before and after visiting a hospital ward (remember alcohol-based hand rubs are also provided).

Why is washing your hands so important?

Rinsing hands with water alone is much less effective than using soap as pathogens lodge in the natural oils of our hands. Drying is just as important, as any wetness will aid the transfer of bacteria that’s on the hands. You should wash your hands under running water for at least 20 seconds to allow the soap to help the water fully lift any dirt, grime and bacteria from your hands.

How best to wash your hands

The most effective technique for washing your hands properly is to use warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and to follow the step by step guide below as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Step 1 Before washing your hands, wet your hands with warm water.
Hand Washing sink wash
Step 2 Apply enough soap to cover all surfaces of your hands before you start to wash them.
Hand Washing use soap
Step 3 Rub your hands together palm to palm making a circular motion.
Hand washing wash palms
Step 4 Place your right hand on top of your left hand and interlace your fingers. Repeat this but vice versa.
Hand washing wash hands
Step 5 Next, interlock your fingers palm to palm.
Hand Washing link hands
Step 6 Place the backs of your fingers to the palm of your opposite hand; fingers interlocked.
Hand washing link palms
Step 7 Rotational rubbing by clasping your left thumb in the palm of your right hand and vice versa.
Hand Washing clean thumbs
Step 8 Clasp your fingers and rotationally rub the palm of the opposite hand.
Hand Washing rub hands
Step 9 Rinse hands with warm water.
Hand Washing rinsing hands
Step 10 Thoroughly dry your hands using a single use towel.
Hand Washing drying hands
Step 11 Turn the tap off using your paper towel to cover your hands.
Hand Wasing tap off
For other suggestions on how to stay healthy at work, download our free guide on 8 ways to keep a healthy workplace or book a free Healthy Workplace Assessment.

Julius Rutherfoord