Hygiene and hand washing

Hygiene and hand washing

Cleaning your hands gets rid of germs you pick up from other people. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses.

Key points to remember

Put soap on your hands and wash for 20 seconds. Dry your hands all over for 20 seconds.

  • keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses
  • cleaning your hands gets rid of germs you pick up from other people, from the surfaces you touch and from the animals you come in contact with

Poster about how to wash hands

When should I wash my hands?

  • before eating
  • before, during, and after handling or preparing food
  • after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
  • after playing outside
  • after having contact with animals, their toys, leashes, or waste
  • after going to the toilet

... and ...

  • after touching something that could be contaminated (such as a rubbish bin, cleaning cloth, drain, or soil)
  • before dressing a wound, giving medicine or putting in contact lenses
  • after contact with blood or body fluids (like vomit, nasal secretions, or saliva)
  • after changing a nappy
  • more often when someone in your home is sick
  • whenever they look dirty

How should I wash my hands?

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based wipe or hand gel.

  • wet your hands under clean running water - use warm water if available
  • put soap on your hands and wash for 20 seconds - liquid soap is best
  • rub hands together until the soap makes bubbles
  • rub on both sides of both hands…
  • and in between fingers and thumbs…
  • and round and round both hands
  • rinse all the soap off under clean running water - use warm water if available
  • dry your hands all over for 20 seconds - using a paper towel is best (or, if at home, a clean dry towel)

This page last reviewed 05 June 2018.
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