Handwashing is the process of cleaning hands with soap and water. It is an integral part of personal hygiene. We need to follow the proper steps of handwashing to remove bacteria, viruses, and other germs that can cause diseases.
That’s why we will cover the importance of handwashing and the techniques and times recommended to ensure maximum effectiveness. Also, we’ll discuss the different methods for washing hands and the various soaps, sanitisers, and tools you can use. Finally, we will provide helpful tips to create awareness among people and encourage children to wash their hands regularly. By following these steps of handwashing, you can protect yourself and your family from the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Table of Contents
Importance of Handwashing: Why Wash Your Hands?
Washing hands is one of the most valuable ways to prevent germs and bacteria, which can lead to illness and infections. Keeping your hands clean is essential to protect yourself and others from getting sick.
You should properly follow handwashing steps and maintain personal hygiene, which helps remove dirt, germs and other contaminants from your hands, which can cause illnesses such as flu, colds, stomach viruses and other infections. It can also prevent the spread of more foodborne severe diseases such as Salmonella and E.coli. Doing so can also help reduce the risk of spreading certain conditions such as coronavirus.
Firstly, handwashing is an important way to reduce the spread of harmful bacteria, viruses and other germs. Additionally, it also helps to reduce the risk of illnesses. At the same time, you need to follow the steps of handwashing to keep yourself and others healthy.
Reduces the Risk of Infection
Handwashing helps to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria and viruses—the best way to protect yourself and others from illnesses.
Prevent the Spread of Diseases
Handwashing is an effective way to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. Therefore, washing your hands after going to the bathroom, eating, and touching surfaces that may contaminate you is essential.
Proper handwashing can help improve overall health. It helps to keep your hands free from bacteria and viruses that can cause illness.
Enhance Personal Hygiene
Handwashing is a part of good hygiene. It helps keep your hands and nails clean and reduces the spread of germs and bacteria.
How Do Germs Spread?
Germs can spread in various ways, including through physical contact, airborne particles, and contact with contaminated surfaces. When people come into contact with germs, they can spread person to person through direct or indirect contact, airborne transmission, and faecal-oral transmission.
Direct contact occurs when an individual contacts another person infected with a germ.
For example – touching, kissing or sharing food or drinks
Indirect contact occurs when someone touches an object or surface contaminated by an infected person. For example – a person can come into indirect contact by sneezing, coughing, or shaking hands.
Airborne transmission happens when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing droplets that contain germs into the air. Another person can then inhale these droplets.
For example – coughing, sneezing and talking.
Faecal-oral transmission is the spread of disease-causing organisms from one person to another by ingesting faecal matter containing the microorganisms. This transmission route occurs when the contaminated faeces enter the mouth directly or indirectly. For instance, contaminated food or water and insect bites.
Germs can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, like sharing cloth, door knobs, tales, toys, and even money, also through contaminated food and water.
Essential Times To Wash Your Hands
There is no specific time when to wash your hands. However, practising personal hygiene by washing your hands frequently throughout the day is important.
You should wash your hands before you do any of the following –
- Preparing food
- Providing first aid or caring for someone who is sick
- Coming in contact with Children
- Touching your face, nose, mouth, or eyes
You should wash your hands after you do any of the following –
- Using the toilet
- Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- Preparing food
- Contact with an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- Handling pet food or pet treats
- Touching rubbish
- Providing first aid or caring for someone who is sick
- Changing a diaper
- Touching a public surface (such as a doorknob or elevator button)
- Touching someone else’s hands or body fluids
- Handling money
How to Wash Your Hands – 8 Steps of Handwashing
Here are 8 steps of handwashing to clean your hands properly.
Step 1: Wet your hands
Wet your hands with clean, warm or cold running water.
Step 2: Apply Soap
Turn off the tap, then apply soap. After that, lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap.
Step 3: Rub the Back of the Hands
Rub one palm over the back of the other hand and in between the fingers. Repeat with the other hand.
Step 4: Interlink Your Fingers
Rub hands together and clean in between the fingers.
Step 5: Cup Your Fingers
Rub the back of the fingers in the palms of both hands.
Step 6: Clean the Thumbs
Twist the thumb with one hand, then swap with the other.
Step 7: Rub your Palms with Your Fingers
Rub fingertips around the palm of both hands.
Step 8: Rinse Hands
Rinse both your hands well under clean, running water. Then, use a disposable paper towel to turn off the tap. Disposable paper towels are the hygienic way to dry your hands. But you may also use automatic hand dryers in your workplace.
Learn Proper Steps of Handwashing from Personal Hygiene Course
Some professions require practical knowledge of personal hygiene, like nurses, waiter/waitresses, dentists, front house receptionists, teachers etc. Anyone who wants to learn more about personal hygiene best practices and maintenance is ideal for those who work in the food, catering, and hospitality sector. There are courses packed with tips, advice, and guidance which will teach you how to present yourself better to others, exploring a range of personal care methods for the hands, feet, nails, feet, eyes, and ears.
How to Use Hand Sanitiser?
You can use a hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol.
- First, take a few drops of hand sanitiser in your hand.
- Rub the sanitiser into your hands, palms and fingers.
- Do this until they are dry, ensuring all surfaces of your hands and fingers are covered.
7 Tips to Keep Your Skin Healthy
Regular handwashing can sometimes cause the skin to dry out or irritation because of using harsh cleaning products.
Use a Gentle Cleanser
Use a gentle, non-irritable soap. Choose a mild, unscented soap that won’t strip off the natural oils from your skin.
Avoid Excessive Scrubbing
Refrain from scrubbing too hard. Instead, use gentle strokes and rinse thoroughly afterwards.
Apply a moisturiser or hand lotion after you wash your hands. That will help seal in moisturise and prevent your skin from drying out.
Avoid Regular Use of Antibacterial Soaps.
Antibacterial soaps have their merits, but it’s better to avoid using them regularly. They contain harsh ingredients that may irritate the skin when used excessively.
Limit the Use of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitisers
Alcohol-based hand sanitisers can dry out your skin, so it’s better to avoid them.
Wear gloves if you’re cleaning with harsh chemicals and beach. This will help you protect your hands.
Use Lukewarm Water
Avoid hot water when washing your hands; use lukewarm water instead.
How to Create Public Awareness for Washing Hands Regularly?
Creating public awareness of handwashing is important. If people are aware of the importance of handwashing, they are more likely to practice proper hygiene. By doing so, they can dramatically reduce the spread of infectious diseases, which can greatly impact public health. Additionally, handwashing education can reduce healthcare costs since fewer people will get sick.
Educate People on the Importance of Handwashing
Educate people on the science behind handwashing, such as how germs spread and how washing your hands can save you and your family, and help them know all the steps of handwashing to clean hands properly.
Use posters, flyers, and videos to showcase the benefits of handwashing.
Hold Handwashing Events
Hold handwashing events in schools, workplaces, and public places to show people the importance of handwashing.
Distribute Handwashing Kits
Distribute handwashing kits with soap and hand sanitiser to people to encourage regular handwashing.
Promote Handwashing Through Social Media
Use social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to promote and encourage regular handwashing.
How to Inspire Children to Wash Their Hands?
Children should know the importance of handwashing. Parents, Teachers can demonstrate the proper steps of handwashing to help them do it properly
Make Handwashing fun
Sing songs like “Happy Birthday” or the “ABCs” while washing your hands. Or give children special soap in fun colours or shapes.
Explain the Importance of Handwashing
Explain to children why handwashing is essential to keep them healthy. You can also use visuals such as diagrams or videos to teach them about germs.
Set a Good Example
As a parent or guardian, you should also be a model good for forming handwashing habits by demonstrating their importance.
You can also offer rewards for good handwashing habits, such as stickers or candy.
Make it Convenient
Place hand soap and hand towels in easily accessible locations in your home.
Make it a Game
Challenge them to see who can make the most bubbles.
Hang posters around the house to remind them to wash their hands.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Praise children for washing their hands and remind them of the importance of doing so.
FAQ about Handwashing
Can You Use Hand Sanitiser Instead of Soap?
No, hand sanitiser is an effective alternative to soap and water for killing germs. However, note that hand sanitiser does not remove dirt and debris from the skin and should not use as a substitute for regular handwashing.
We should not use hand sanitisers when hands are visibly dirty or greasy or after using the toilet, as the sanitiser will not be able to remove dirt and grime effectively. However, if your hands are too dirty, washing them with soap and water is adequate.
Do You Wash Longer If You’re Cooking?
If you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when cooking, It will help remove any bacteria on your hands and help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. To wash longer is recommended when cooking, especially when preparing raw meat, poultry, or seafood. In addition, it ensures that your food is safe to eat.
Should You Wash Your Hands in Hot or Cold Water?
The best way is to wash your hands in lukewarm water. However, using hot water, the natural oils from your skin can strip away, and cold water does not efficiently remove dirt and bacteria. In addition, hot water may be too harsh on sensitive skin.
Does it Matter What Type of Soap You Use?
Yes, it does matter what type of soap you use. Because different soaps have different ingredients, affecting how your skin feels and responds. For example, some soaps are gentle and moisturising, remove dirt and oil, or contain exfoliating agents.
You can use liquid rather than bar soap because it’s easier to dissolve and spread over your hands. In addition, soaps that contain moisturisers and skin conditioners can be beneficial for people with dry skin. Antibacterial soaps are best for killing germs and bacteria on the skin but should not be used for everyday handwashing.
Generally, mild soap or soap is recommended explicitly for handwashing. Using harsh soap can dry out and irritate the skin.
What Kinds of Soap Work Best?
Any mild liquid soap will work well for handwashing. But plain soap is the best choice for handwashing. Look for a soap which is free of harsh chemicals and fragrances and labelled as “gentle”, “mild”, “hypoallergenic”, or “dermatologist-tested”. Liquid soaps are typically better than bar soaps, as they tend to leave less residue on the hands.
What to do if There’s No Water and Soap?
If water and soap are unavailable, you can use a hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol. Rub the sanitiser into your hands until they are dry, ensuring all surfaces of your hands and fingers are covered.
Does it Make a Difference How Much Time You Spend Washing Your Hands?
The amount of time spent washing your hands can make a difference in how effective the cleaning is. It is recommended that you spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands properly with soap and water. You can count by singing the “Happy Birthday “song twice. It ensures that the soap has enough time to interact with dirt and germs before being washed away.
You must scrub your hands between your fingers and nails for 20 seconds. Using an alcohol sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol content is also effective. Washing hands thoroughly reduces the risk of getting sick and spreading germs to others.
Proper handwashing awareness, such as the steps of handwashing, can prevent the spread of germs and avoid illnesses and infections. Proper handwashing involves:
- Using soap and water.
- Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Using a clean towel or air dryer.
Also, keep hands away from the face and avoid touching contaminated surfaces. It is also important to keep washing hands often, especially after using the bathroom, eating, coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. By following these steps, people can help to prevent the spread of germs and keep themselves and others safe and healthy.