How to wash your hands effectively

How to wash your hands effectively

Effective handwashing is the single most important way to control infection and prevent it spreading.

When to wash your hands

  • before any food preparation
  • after visiting the toilet 
  • after blowing your nose
  • after coughing or sneezing into your hand
  • before and after eating
  • after smoking
  • before entering and after leaving your work area.


Please note, this is not an exhaustive list.

To be effective, you must make sure that you have washed every part of your hands. The procedure should take about 20 seconds.


Jewellery on hands and wrists should be kept to a minimum. 


Nails should be kept short and nail varnish should not be worn. Micro-organisms can become trapped in jewellery and under fingernails which will not be removed by hand washing. 

Hand care

Constant washing of the hands can cause the skin on your hands to become dry and sore. To prevent this happening make sure you have dried your hands well and use a hand cream to replace moisture. Breaks in the skin will let infection in, so cover any cuts or abrasions with a waterproof plaster.

Products to use

Do not use bars of soap or communal tubs of hand cream. Always use these products from a dispensing pump. Use paper towels to dry your hands, not cloth towels as these can harbour germs.

Alcohol gel should be used where there is no immediate access to handwashing facilities. You must make sure that the alcohol gel has contact with the entire surface of your hands for it to be effective.

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