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Hand Hygiene

Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is extremely important in preventing the spread of communicable disease.


• Hand hygiene means washing your hands really well and drying them too.
• It is the best way to prevent the spread of infections.
• Teaching children how to wash and dry their hands properly will help to keep them well.

How to wash your hands - step by step

1. Wash your hands under clean running water. Warm water is best if you have it
2. Put soap on your hands and wash for 20 seconds
TIP: singing happy birthday to yourself twice takes about 20 seconds
3. Rub hands together until the soap makes bubbles…
rub on both sides of both hands...
and in between fingers and thumbs...
and round and round both hands.
4. Rinse all the soap off under clean running water.
5. Dry your hands all over for 20 seconds.
TIP: Using paper towels is best (or, if at home, a clean dry towel).

Drying your hands is as important as washing.

• Drying your hands wipes of any germs and dirt loosened when you washed.
• Dry hands don’t spread germs around like wet hands can.

When is it important to wash and dry your hands?

• After you have been to the toilet.
• Before you have anything to eat.
• After stroking or touching your pets or other animals.
• Whenever your hands feel dirty.
• Before you prepare food or a meal.
• After changing a nappy.

Hand Sanitizers

The use of hand sanitizers such as alcohol-based solutions is useful to decontaminate hands if there is no access to hand washing facilities. However, their use does not replace the need for thorough hand hygiene. Hand sanitizers should be seen as an additional hand hygiene step. Hand sanitizers are less effective when there is a build-up of organic material on the hands. If there is visual soiling of the hands full hand hygiene (washing and drying) should be performed. If there is no visual soiling hand sanitizer can be used indefinitely. One other important point to note is that after application of the sanitizer solution/gel the hands should continue to be rubbed together until they are completely dry. Additional information on the use of Hand sanitiser is available on the United States Centre for Communicable Disease Control (CDC) website.

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