Warm, soapy water is the best option for washing your hands when they are visibly dirty. Follow these simple tips on good hand hygiene.
To wash your hands:
- remove all jewellery, even rings, so you can reach all surfaces on your hands
- wet hands with running water (preferably warm)
- apply soap. Normal soap is just as good as antibacterial soap
- rub your hands together, covering all surfaces, including the back of your hands and between your fingers
- rub hands together for a further 20 seconds
- rinse hands, making sure you remove all soap
- dry your hands thoroughly with a paper towel or a clean hand towel.
Using a waterless hand rub
An alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitiser) is a good way to clean your hands if you don’t have access to soap and water. Hand sanitiser is only effective if your hands have no visible dirt on them.
To use hand sanitiser:
- put about half a teaspoon of the product in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, covering all the surfaces of your hand, including between your fingers
- keep rubbing until your hands are dry (about 20–30 seconds).
Other tips for good hand hygiene
- Carry some hand sanitiser with you and use it whenever you want to decontaminate your hands, for example, after using public transport.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, instead of into your hands.
- Wear disposable gloves before handling dirty nappies or cleaning up blood or any other body fluid.
- Be a good role model and encourage children to wash their hands properly and frequently.
- When using cloth towels to dry your hands, hang the towel up to dry after each use, and launder the towels regularly.
Last reviewed: November 2016