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Effective Hand Washing Procedures 

Washing your hands is a common, regular procedure that you may perform multiple times daily. However: particularly in light of recent hygiene requirements globally, today we discuss the best hand washing procedures! 

How can I wash my hands effectively? 

Short answer: proper hard washing is very important in society. It helps prevent the transmission of sickness and diseases, and is a necessary everyday practice for many reasons. 

  • Scenarios include: eating, food preparation, hygiene/bacterial transmission prevention (bacteria or viruses) and when getting your hands dirty - to name a few. 
  • Improper hand washing can have serious consequences, such as in the case of a medical or food preparation setting. 
  • You should follow a proper procedure, washing for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm soapy water; as detailed in this article. 

The Easiest Handwashing Techniques 

In this article, we cover a primary basic hand washing procedure - alongside alternate methods if you do not have access to clean water. 

  • Generally, the easiest and most effective hand washing technique involves washing your hands with warm soapy water, for a minimum of 20 seconds. 
  • Ensure that your hands are thoroughly/ entirely coated and dried completely after you are finished. 

This is the minimum time necessary to properly remove bacteria from all areas of your hands.

Instructions: Visit lower down in the article to view the full procedure.

You may be wondering what to do if you don’t have access to clean water or soap.

Following are some tips for techniques without water access: 

  • Hand sanitiser (usually alcohol based). 
  • This option does not work in the case of visible grime or bacteria.

    Instead, it simply disinfects/kills bacteria - as opposed to actually removing it on a surface level (such as with water).

    How to use:

    • Take a pump or squirt (about ½ a teaspoon) of hand sanitiser from a bottle. 
    • Rub it in quickly, thoroughly coating all areas of the hands before it dries (20-30 seconds on average). Make sure to also get between your fingers. 

    Note: Don’t go overboard with regular hand sanitiser use, however - as it can dry out your hands and cause brittle, cracked skin.

    Too much hand sanitiser also can cause over sensitisation to bacteria, as your immune system does not have a chance to properly be exposed.

    However, this is usually only in the case of excessive use.

When do I Need to Wash my Hands? 

There are a variety of reasons you may need to wash your hands, and most of us typically perform this practice multiple times daily at minimum.

Aside from the common and obvious reasons, such as getting your hands dirty for instance - proper hand washing is a crucial hygiene aspect.

Especially in scenarios such as a pandemic, viruses and bacteria can both be spread quite easily if proper hand washing procedures are not used.

Some instances you may wash your hands include: 

  • Handling something messy, or dirtying hands (e.g touching mud, food or a messy surface) 
  • Interacting with a chemical, substance or other agent that needs to be rinsed (properly removing substances or residue off your hands) 
  • This includes handling bodily fluids such as blood or vomit. 

  • Maintaining daily hygiene; preventing spread of bacteria or viruses 
  • (Proper hand washing is important for bacterial removal, especially if you are sick or exposed to viruses etc).

    Fact: bacteria accumulates on parts of your body throughout the day.

    If you touch parts of your mouth, face or eyes you can spread the bacteria to these areas.

    If you are unwell for example, you may regularly wash your hands more than usual to remove bacteria - or after handling dirty/transmissible items like tissues.

  • Needing to sterilise your hands prior to a medical/first aid procedure (such as touching a wound). 
  • It is very important to have disinfected hands prior to attending to any wounds or performing first aid/medical procedures.

    You should also wash your hands prior to administering medication.

  • Common everyday acts, such as eating or after going to the bathroom. 
  • It is common practice to wash your hands prior to eating or after going to the bathroom.

    Doing so is important to prevent transmission of bacteria to other areas, including internally when eating.

  • Before or after food preparation (especially touching raw meat) 
  • Touching or handling raw meat can cause serious foodborne illness if done incorrectly, as some of these items carry potentially dangerous bacteria. 

  • When taking out the rubbish
  • After touching or interacting with animals
  • Certain animals may carry illnesses or diseases transmissible to humans

  • When caring for a person who is unwell, or a child/baby (such as after diaper changing or toilet assistance). 
  • This also includes breastfeeding.

    Children also need to regularly wash their hands, and may be very prone to spreading bacteria if handling dirty items constantly.


Procedures to Effectively Wash Hands 

Many people may not be aware that often, a very brief hand wash is not sufficient to properly remove and deactivate germs or bacteria.

Hand washing procedures can be relatively simple and effective if done correctly.

Follow the below steps for a medically appropriate and effective hand washing procedure.

Steps to thoroughly wash your hands:

  • Try to go for warm, soapy water when hand washing. Wet your hands with the water before coating them in the soap. 
  • This is the most effective option for killing germs.

  • You can use both normal soap and antibacterial soap, either is sufficient. Coat your hands thoroughly with the soap on both sides. 
  • Rub your hands together, making sure to entirely coat all areas (including the back of your hands) - and interlock your hands to get in between your fingers. 
  • Do this for 20 seconds minimum. 
  • Some say it can be a helpful trick to sing happy birthday in your head if you get bored, as it is generally the rough length! 

  • Rinse your hands entirely, making sure to remove all traces of soap. Do not turn off the tap using your hands directly, instead use a towel/paper towel. 
  • Make sure to completely dry your hands, using a clean towel (replacing towels regularly is a good practice) or paper towel. 

If in a public place, use the air dryer.

The above procedure ensures that your hands are thoroughly washed and dried.

Further tips: 

  • Make sure to always replace paper towels and clean towels so you always have access. 
  • There are a variety of different soaps you may select, but as long as you properly complete this procedure it is not necessary to have antibacterial/fancy soap on hand. 

Thorough hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds allows bacteria to be rinsed off effectively. 

What Can I do to Reduce the Effects of tBenefits of Effective Hand Washing he Worst Snakebites? 

Proper hand washing is a very important hygiene practice.

There are countless benefits to doing so, and when completed on an everyday basis hand washing procedures can significantly assist with minimising spread of disease and sickness.

Below are some of the many benefits of an effective hand washing procedure:

  • Prevention of sickness/illness for both yourself and others (such as infections, colds and flus). 
  • This is especially important for the elderly and vulnerable individuals (such as with compromised immunity). 

  • Minimising bacterial transmission to food during preparation, or when eating 
  • Insufficient hand washing can result in transmission of foodborne illness or dangerous bacteria to both yourself and others. 

  • Safe hospital settings, particularly for those with compromised immune systems. 
  • Hand washing is crucial in a hospital or clinical setting.

    This is the case particularly for individuals who have just had surgery or are undergoing treatment and may be especially vulnerable (due to low immunity).

  • Keeping your hands clean and irritation free, especially when dealing with dirty or harsh substances (like chemicals). 
  • Regular hand washing with a gentle soap is a good skin practice in addition, as our hands may encounter many harsh items/substances on a daily basis. 


Related Questions:

Do I need to use a special type of soap?  

No. You can use a regular soap, as long as you properly practice and follow the hand washing procedure. Make sure to also dry your hands well.

Of course, an antibacterial/disinfecting soap doesn’t hurt on top!

There is no need to choose any harsh chemical -based option; gentle soap can be very effective.

Does hand sanitiser replace regular hand washing? 

No. It is very important not to replace regular hand washing with hand sanitiser use. Hand sanitiser is a waterless option, and does not allow for full rinsing of bacteria (even if it disinfects it).

Regular hand sanitiser use can also have other consequences, such as damage or irritation to your skin.

Hand sanitisers should be used sparingly and only for necessary circumstances.


Proper hand washing procedures are a very important part of daily life.

Make sure to carefully and thoroughly follow the hand washing method detailed, to help prevent transmission of illnesses and bacteria in the community.

Regular daily hand washing can greatly help to prevent disease and sickness for both yourself and others, and keep your hands nice and clean!


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