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Procedure and poster for washing hands effectively

Updated on May 30, 2013

Hand washing

Something as basic as washing hands frequently can effectively reduce infections and diseases caused by microbes.

It is through our hands that we pick up different germs when we touch people, surfaces and objects through the day. These bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms can be easily transferred to other parts of the body when we touch our eyes, mouth and nose, causing various infections and spreading diseases.

It is almost impossible to keep our hands absolutely free of germs, but frequent washing of hands with soap or using hand sanitizer is hygienic and helps reduce the spreading of germs to a large extent.

Hence it is extremely important for us to know when and how to wash our hands properly.

Hand washing with soap
Hand washing with soap

When you must wash hands?

You must make an effort to wash your hands properly after certain activities, failing which the chances of bacterial and viral infections may potentially increase. They are:

  • After coming home from outside
  • After commuting in public transport
  • When many people around are sneezing or coughing
  • When you yourself cough or sneeze
  • Before and after eating
  • After touching doorknobs, switches, phones, taps and other objects which are shared by others
  • After handling garbage or throwing the litter
  • After touching pets
  • After shaking hands
  • After gardening
  • After using toilets
  • After changing baby's diapers
  • After handling soiled utensils
  • After touching money and newpapers
  • After handling raw food, especially raw vegetables and raw meat, eggs, fish, shellfish or poultry
  • Before cooking food
  • Health workers must wash hands after touching their patients
  • Before and after touching a sick person
  • Before and after treating wounds
  • After touching any dusty surface or dirty object

Washing hands as frequently as possible will go a long way in protecting oneself and the people around from getting contaminated with infections.


Hand washing procedure
Hand washing procedure

How to wash hands correctly?

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in US have recommended health workers and everyone else to follow some steps of proper handwashing.

  • Use a good lathering soap liberally all over the surfaces of the hands
  • Use preferably warm running water to wash your hands. Warm water loosens the germs and grease from the hands and is more effective than cold water.
  • Rub your hands together for at least 15-20 seconds
  • Special care needs to be given to the wrists, back of the hands, under the fingernails and in between the fingers.
  • Rinse the soap thoroughly with running water
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel
  • When using public restrooms, use a paper towel to dry your hands. Make a habit of using paper towel to touch the taps or doorknobs in order to avoid direct contact with germ-prone surfaces

Other tips for hand hygiene:

  • Make an effort to keep your nails clean, shorter nails would be easier to cleanse
  • While travelling, carry a hand sanitizer and paper towels or hand wipes and use them often
  • Using hot air drier in public restrooms may not be effective always to keep your hands safe. Over a period of time, germs and dirt get collected inside the air drier, which is directly blown into the hands, negating the effects of the freshly washed hands. It is better to avoid drying hands using the hot air drier in public restrooms.
  • Using antibacterial soaps are not always advantageous over normal soaps. Constant use of antibacterial soaps may lead to the development of bacteria which are resistant to the antimicrobial solutions in the soap.
  • Always keep a clean handkerchief or paper towel handy when you are travelling or commuting to work
  • Alcohol-based sanitizers have 65-90% alcohol (ethyl alcohol or isopropanol) which has a very high efficacy of killing a range of harmful pathogens, that too instantly. On the contrary, alcohol-free sanitizers, though growing in popularity as it is milder to the hands, retaining the natural oils of the skin unlike alcohol, has not been proved (by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration) to be as effective a sanitizer.


Do not neglect this apparently trivial action, it has the potential to save valuable lives
Do not neglect this apparently trivial action, it has the potential to save valuable lives

"Save Lives: Clean your hands" initiative by WHO

A humble act of 'washing hands' frequently can save precious lives by preventing the spread of diseases carried by harmful pathogens. World Health Organization (WHO) have celebrated its second global day on 5th May 2010 to raise the awareness among the people. The project was called "Save Lives: Clean your Hands" and the responses were amazing.

The aim was to invite the health-care workers, facilities and organizations all over the globe to actively campaign for improved hand hygiene to reduce health-care associated infections. It was estimated that annually, 99,000 deaths occur due to health-care associated infections, the number has drastically come down after the hospitals and other health-care providers started to inculcate routined hand hygiene practices.

Although WHO had started the campaign targeting mainly the health-care workers, nevertheless every global citizen has a responsibility towards establishing sustainable health and hygiene for oneself and the people around. Hence, the otherwise neglected practice of washing hands properly and frequently must be encouraged.

Wash your hands off the germs!


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    • nailinthehead profile image

      nailinthehead 6 years ago from Poland

      Well, indeed one should wash hands. But washing hands too often may lead to serious problems with hands skin. We want it or not, there is a natural protective bacterial flora on our skin and if it is washed too often it's killed along with harmful microbes.

    • sriparna profile image

      Sriparna 7 years ago from New Delhi

      Thank you Sassypoetic for visiting and leaving your insightful comment. Yes, children should be told not only the handwashing rules but the reasons behind it. But even adults default most of the times.

    • Sassypoetic profile image

      Sassypoetic 7 years ago from Katy,Texas

      Yes indeed, washing your hands are so very important. I wash my hands all the time... This is reallly something that all parents should instill in their children especially.. Even in this time and stage, no matter how we try to inform others of the many infections... I find many people still do not wash their hands as often as they should... But when they get a viral infection they wonder how.. Of course we know their are many causes of infections.... But not washing your hands are one... Thank you