Hand Washing

Why is hand washing important?

Hand washing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Good hand washing technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults.

Follow these five simple steps to keeping hands clean :

  1. Wet your hands with warm running water.
  2. Add soap, and then rub your hands together, making a soapy lather. Do this away from the running water for at least 15 seconds, being careful not to wash the lather away. Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Rinse your hands well under warm running water.
  4. Pat hands dry with a paper towel.
  5. Turn off water using same paper towel and dispose in a proper receptacle.
What is good hand washing technique?

There is more to hand washing than you think! By rubbing your hands vigorously with soapy water, you pull the dirt and the oily soils free from your skin. The soap lather suspends both the dirt and germs trapped inside and are then quickly washed away.

What type of soap should be used?

Any type of plain soap may be used. However, bar soap should be kept in a self draining holder that is cleaned thoroughly before new bars are put out. Liquid soap containers should be used until empty and then disposed of.

To prevent chapping, wet your hands before applying soap and use a mild lotion soap with warm water; pat rather than rub hands dry; and apply lotion liberally and frequently.

What are alcohol rubs/gels/rinses?

Alcohol rubs/gels/rinses are excellent hand antiseptics, provided they contain more than 60% alcohol. They are widely used in the health care settings, or in situations where running water is not available.

How do I use alcohol based hand rubs?

Alcohol-based hand rubs should only be used if no visible dirt is present on the hands.

Apply enough antiseptic to make about the size of a quarter onto your hands, enough when you rub your hands together to cover all areas of your hands, including under your nails. Use a rubbing motion to evenly distribute the antiseptic product until your hands feel dry.

Follow the steps below :

  1. Remove hand and arm jewellery
  2. Ensure hands are visibly clean (if soiled, follow hand washing steps)
  3. Apply between 1 to 2 full pumps of product, or squirt a loonie-sized amount, onto one palm.
  4. Spread product over all surfaces of hand, concentrating on finger tips, between fingers, back of hands, and base of thumbs.
  5. Rub hands until product is dry. This will take a minimum of 15 to 20 seconds if sufficient product is used.
How safe are alcohol based hand antiseptics ?

Very safe. The alcohol content of the antiseptic product completely evaporates as it dries.

Is it safe to use alcohol-based antiseptics for the hands of children?

Yes, it is safe. It should not be swallowed, therefore, young children should be supervised when using it. Store it safely. After application of the antiseptic to hands, the alcohol content evaporates.

What are some mistakes I should avoid regarding hand washing?
  • DON'T use a single damp cloth to wash a group of children's hands.
  • DON'T use a standing basin of water to rinse hands.
  • DON'T use a common hand towel. Always use disposable towels in day care or food preparation settings.
  • DON'T use sponges or non-disposable cleaning cloths. Remember that germs thrive on moist surfaces.
What are some ways to help children with good hand washing technique?

It is important to encourage and help children to wash hands before eating, after playing outdoors or playing with pets, after using the bathroom, and after blowing their noses.

Even though hands may appear to be clean, they may carry germs or microorganisms that are capable of causing disease. Don't assume that children know how to wash their hands properly. Supervision, especially in a day care setting, is an essential element in forming good hand washing habits in children.

Children learn by example! Let them observe good hand washing technique from the adults who care for them.

Tony Ferguson,
Oct 11, 2011, 11:11 AM