How to wash your hands to remove viruses and bacteria

9 tips for great hand hygiene

The World Health Organization says that the most important action we can take during the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic is to wash hands frequently to remove any viruses that may be on them. Washing hands is the most effective way to prevent the spread of illnesses in hospitals, care homes, offices, schools, food-handling businesses and the home. It’s estimated that 80% of communicable diseases are transferred between people by touch.

Most people don’t wash their hands effectively. Around 50% of men and 22% of women don’t use soap and, even then, most people only wash the palms of their hands. In addition, right-handed people tend to use the right hand to wash the left hand more thoroughly and vice versa.

Why wash your hands

You use your hands to eat, touch, hold and carry things, clean, to scratch and wipe your own body or to greet other people. Hands are the part of the body that’s most exposed to germs and substances in the environment and areas shared with other people such as offices, schools, hospitals, shopping centres and public transport. Poor hand hygiene can quickly spread germs around these shared spaces via common touchpoints, such as door handles, shopping trolleys and baskets, cash points/ATMs and payment terminals, stair rails, kettles, and grab handles on trains and buses.

Steps for effective handwashing

Step 1

Wet hands under warm, running water and apply plenty of soap.

Step 2

Wash your hands thoroughly for around 20 seconds. First rub your palms together.

Step 3

Interlace your fingers, rub fingers with palms facing, rub fingers with right hand over back of left hand, and then vice versa.

Step 4

Cusp your fingers tightly into the other palm and rub side to side.

Step 5

Clasp your right hand around your left thumb and rub the thumb in a rotational manner and then vice versa.

Step 6

Place the fingertips of your right hand in your left palm and rub in a circular motion backwards and forwards and then vice versa.

Step 7

Rinse hands under running water to remove soap. Hands can become recontaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use.


Step 8

Dry hands thoroughly with tissue or a clean cloth. Make sure your hands are completely dry as damp hands transfer far more bacteria to everything you touch than dry hands. Use the paper towel to turn off the tap.

Step 9

Use hand sanitiser to get additional protection from germs. Use sufficient quantity to rub all over your hands. Initial hand sanitisers kill 99.9% of germs.

The hygienic washroom

A hygienic washroom is essential to minimise the risk of contamination spreading through a facility. Washrooms should include solutions for hand hygiene, cubicle hygiene, air care and waste management. In high footfall areas smart hygiene solutions for cubicles and handwashing improve customer experience and reduce consumable waste and maintenance.

Find out more:

Related articles

9th October 2020
alexandria colwell
Take Control

Form submitted successfully

IoT and the Food Supply Chain

Is Australia ready to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution? Download our white paper summarising key findings and opportunities in the food industry.