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How to wash your hands

Washing hands is the most effective way to prevent illness in offices, schools, hospitals and food handling businesses. It is 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 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. 

By following a series of simple steps to wash every part of your hands properly you can ensure that all parts of your hands are thoroughly clean and you have removed as many germs as possible. 

On this page you can find: 

  • 9 steps for effective handwashing to remove harmful bacteria from every part of both hands 
  • A video showing the correct handwashing technique 
  • A downloadable Infographic of the 9 steps

9 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, then rub fingers with right hand over back of left hand, 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 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 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 than dry hands to everything you touch. 

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.

DOWNLOAD: How to wash your hands infographic

The handwashing steps in one easy-to-see poster for printing and posting near sinks.


1. Employee Hygiene and Handwashing in Retail Foodservice Establishments

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