The 101 on Proper Hand Hygiene
- On July 28, 2021
By experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more clear than ever how important it is to maintain proper hand hygiene. We’ve all been reminded to prioritize hand washing in order to prevent the spread of harmful germs to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy. In this article, we will break down what hand hygiene is, the importance of it, and how you can properly wash your hands.
Hand hygiene is the act of cleaning one’s hands with soap and water to remove viruses/bacteria/ microorganisms, dirt, grease, or other harmful and unwanted substances that get stuck to the hands.
The importance of hand hygiene is highlighted by the fact that we use our hands to complete almost every daily task that we have. If we maintain proper hand hygiene, we can reduce the chances of getting sick because we are preventing germs from transferring from our hands to other surfaces.
To maintain good hand hygiene, you will need to use soap and water. Without soap and without the proper steps taken, you will not achieve proper hand hygiene. In situations where soap is not available, we strongly encourage you to sanitize your hands with at least 60% alcohol concentration hand sanitizer as a second option.
Timing is everything when it comes to washing hands. The World Health Organization has advised you to wash your hands while doing any of the following:
- After coughing or sneezing
- When caring for the sick
- Before, during and after preparing food
- Before and after eating
- After using the washroom
- When your hands are visibly dirty
- After handling animals or animal waste
There are plenty of circumstances in which you should be washing your hands and there is no bad time to maintain proper hygiene.
Some people believe that excessive hand-washing can make you sick based on the theory that you need exposure to bacteria to maintain a strong immune system. However, there is no clinical evidence that washing your hands too often can make you sick.
To wash your hands correctly, here are four steps to follow:
- Wet your hands with cold or warm water
- Lather your hands with soap and scrub thoroughly for at least 25 seconds
- Rinse your hands off with clean water, hot or cold
- Dry you hands with a fresh towel or air
The graphic above can be printed out to serve as a reminder of the four simple steps to properly washing your hands with soap and water.