Proper hand washing steps

When and How to Wash Your Hands

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Why? Read the science behind the recommendations.

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Learn more here.

How to use hand sanitizer

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Millions of Americans with Dirty Hands Are Spreading Dangerous Bacteria

Who’s doing your grilling this Fourth of July holiday? Have you ever seen someone handling food in a way that you would never do yourself? Maybe they were preparing raw poultry and then immediately handled lettuce without washing their hands. Or maybe they did wash their hands, but they dried them by wiping them on their pants. You would never do that, right? Then again, maybe there are things we all do that might increase our risk for foodborne illness.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently completed an observational study in which participants were recorded cooking in a test kitchen to see if they handled food unsafely while cooking. Preliminary results interestingly show that, participants did not do well preventing bacteria from spreading around their kitchen or verifying that their turkey burgers were safe to eat. Check out the list of top five food safety mistakes participants made that increased their risk of illness.

  1. Participants failed to successfully wash their hands 97 percent of the times they should have! Of the 1,195 recorded points when handwashing was necessary to control possible bacteria transfer, participants failed to wash their hands successfully more than 1,150 times.
  2. 48 percent of participants cross-contaminated spice containers due to lack of handwashing. Because they did not wash their hands adequately harmless tracer microorganisms that act just like human pathogens spread throughout the kitchen. Campylobacter and Salmonella, bacteria found in poultry products, have been shown to survive on food contact surfaces for up to four and 32 hours, respectively.
  3. 5 percent of participants transferred bacteria to salads they prepared and would have immediately served if cooking at home.
  4. 66 percent of participants did not use a food thermometer while preparing turkey burgers during the study. Some participants used color and feel instead to determine if the burgers were safe to eat. Using a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature is the only way to verify meat and poultry are safe to eat.
  5. When participants did use a thermometer, 45 percent did not cook the turkey burger to the minimum safe internal temperature of 165°F. Not cooking poultry to at least 165°F can lead to bacteria, such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, surviving the cooking process.

The good news is that cooking food safely is in your hands and doing so can help keep you and your family healthy this 4th of July. Control the transfer of bacteria in your kitchen by always following the five steps of handwashing after touching raw meat and poultry. Know that you have destroyed dangerous bacteria in your meat and poultry by cooking to the proper internal temperature.

If you are cooking burgers, insert the thermometer through the side of the burger, and ensure the probe reaches the center of the burger, which is the coldest portion. Cook meat and poultry to these internal temperatures:

  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F with a three minute rest.
  • Ground beef: 160°F.
  • Poultry (whole and ground): 165°F.

Once you have cooked your foods, make sure to pack the leftovers up and refrigerate them within two hours. In hot summer weather (above 90°F), refrigerate them within one hour.

For more food safety information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, or email or chat at

5 Steps to proper hand-washing

Hand Washing Reduces Cold & Flu Cooler changing weather brings sickness. Don’t let the cold & flu season get you down. Even though these illnesses are easily passed from person to person, you can help prevent passing them to others and reduce your risk of catching them by simply washing your hands! The CDC recommends these 5 steps to proper hand-washing. Let’s take a look and see how-to wash our hand the right way and reduce our chances from catching the common cold or flu.

5 Steps to proper hand-washing helps reduce sickness
It is important to use clean water to wet your hands. The temperature of the water doesn’t really make a difference for effectiveness but most people like warm water when available. Make sure to get all of your skin wet and then turn off the faucet and apply soap.
Many people quickly rub their hands together while the water is running. This causes the soap to quickly run off before you have had a chance to thoroughly clean your skin. With the water off apply the soap and rub your hands together until the bubbles begin to build up. This “lathering” is a sign you are doing a good job. Be sure to scrub every part of your hands including both front and back, under your nails and between your fingers.
Simply applying water and soap isn’t enough. It is important you scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds to remove dirt, bacteria or any germs that could be transmitted. Count to 20 or hum the happy birthday song twice before you begin to rinse.
Turn the tap back on and rinse your hands well under clean running water. Be sure to rinse off all of the soap residue under your nails and from every part of your hands. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
If in a public place, be sure to get your paper towel before turning off the faucet. Germs are all over bathroom fixtures. Reach for the towel, dry your hands thoroughly and then use the towel to turn off the faucet. Use that same towel to open the bathroom door. The door is another germ-filled object. The waste basket should be positioned near the door where you can discard your towel after opening the door with it.
If you are in a public restroom that doesn’t have paper products but uses an electric hand dryer, grab some toilet paper to touch fixtures or door handles.
If there is no running water, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Practicing proper hand-washing is essential to public health and will help reduce your chances of transmitting or catching one of these common cold-weather illnesses.

5 Steps to Effective Hand-Washing

We’ve all heard that washing your hands several times a day can help you avoid getting sick during cold and flu season. Follow these simple tips to make it a habit and keep the germs away.

The simple act of hand-washing can help stop the spread of germs that can cause a cold or flu (or even swine flu). While we now take for granted the importance of hand-washing to prevent colds, the importance of hand-washing was discovered only 150 years ago.

“Hand-washing is still the best way to prevent colds and other respiratory and infectious diseases that are transmitted by hand to mouth or hand to nose/eye contact,” says Samuel N. Grief, MD, medical director of campus care at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Soap acts as a vehicle to trap the germs (i.e. viruses, bacteria) that are loosened by the act of rubbing your hands together under water. These germs can then be rinsed away by the water.”

Contact with other people throughout the day, touching contaminated surfaces, and even petting animals can cause a variety of cold-causing germs to accumulate on your hands. Then by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth you can infect yourself if you don’t wash your hands often enough. Touching someone else or touching a doorknob or other surface can then spread cold germs to others.

The Best Way to Wash Your Hands

Hand-washing to prevent colds includes using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, a cleanser you can use without water. “There is no one best water temperature to wash one’s hands,” says Dr. Grief. “If your hands are really dirty and greasy, use of warm to hot water will do a better job of trapping dirt and grease within the soap, allowing for a more thorough cleaning.”

The type of soap also does not typically matter, according to Grief, “as long as it lathers and spreads over the hands sufficiently to trap the germs.”

10 Times to Wash Hands

To prevent colds from spreading to others, practice regular hand-washing. Most importantly, wash hands:

  • Before and after preparing or handling food, especially when handling uncooked poultry and meat
  • Before eating
  • After changing diapers
  • After using the bathroom
  • After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
  • Before and after inserting contact lenses
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After handling garbage
  • Before and after treating wounds
  • Before and after touching a sick or injured person

5 Steps to Proper Hand-Washing

If using soap and water for hand-washing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following five steps to prevent the spread of colds:

  • Wet your hands with clean water — warm, if available — and apply soap.
  • Lather by rubbing hands together; be sure to cover all surfaces.
  • Continue rubbing hands together for 15 to 20 seconds — sing “Happy Birthday” twice in your head.
  • Thoroughly rinse hands under running water to ensure removal of residual germs.
  • Use paper towels or an air dryer to dry hands and then, if possible, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers make a good substitute for hand-washing when soap and water is not available. A recent study from the University of Chicago showed that while soap-and-water hand-washing was most effective in removing influenza virus from the hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer was a close second. If you’re using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, apply product to one palm, rub your two hands together, making sure to reach all surfaces, and continue rubbing until hands are dry.

Preventing a week or two of misery from the common cold or flu will be well worth those 20 seconds spent with soap and water.

An important skill for anyone in the medical profession is the prevention of disease transmission through an infection control system. Infection control begins with proper hand washing. Hand washing removes both visible dirt and invisible microorganisms that can cause disease. In order to get the most benefits from hand washing, you should follow these steps.

  1. Before you wash your hands, remove any jewelry on your hands or wrists, such as rings, watches, or bracelets.
  2. Turn on the water and make sure it is comfortably warm, but not so hot it burns your hands. Get your hands wet all the way up to your wrists.
  3. Use a dime-sized amount of liquid or foam soap.
  4. Begin to lather the soap for at least thirty seconds. One tip- sing the “Happy Birthday Song” or “ABC song” twice to make sure you have washed for long enough. Press hands firmly together as you wash – friction is an important factor as you wash. Be sure to work soap under and around your fingernails, as this is a prime spot for germs to hide.
  5. As you wash, be sure your hands are positioned downward, lower than your elbows, to keep microorganisms from travelling up the arm. If your hands touch the inside surface of the sink, start the hand washing procedure again to ensure hands have not become contaminated.
  6. If your hands have been in contact with bodily fluids such as blood, urine, mucus, or vomit, you need to spend at least one minute washing hands, even after visible dirt is gone.
  7. Rinse hands under warm water, and then dry your hands with a clean towel. Disposable towels are preferred since towels that are re-used may contain more germs.

As a nurse’s aide, there are numerous times throughout the day when you will be required to wash your hands. Even if gloves are worn, you mush wash your hands before feeding a patient, before and after coming in contact with a patient’s wound, after touching soiled linens. You will also need to wash your hands before performing any procedure on a patient, and before entering or leaving a patient’s room. Your attention to detail when washing hands can mean safer, healthier environment for both you and your patients.

Examiner Checklist For This Skill

1) Stood in such a way that the clothes did not touch the sink.

2) Turned on the water and adjusted temperature to warm; left the water

3) Wet wrists and hands; At all times kept the level of hands lower than that of the elbow.

4) Applied soap or cleaning agent to hands using available products.

5) Washed both hands and wrists using friction for at least 15-20 seconds.

6) Rinsed both hands and wrists properly under running water with fingertips pointed down.

7) Dried hands properly with paper towel(s) from fingertips to wrists.

8) Disposed of all used paper towel(s).

9) Used dry paper towel between hand and faucet to turn off water.

10) Disposed of used paper towels.

Expert Tip by Tanya Glover, CNA

Having worked as a CNA for many years, I have a lot to say about the skill of hand washing. The main thing I have to say is that it is not done nearly enough! When we are in training to become CNAs, hand washing is something we pay very close attention to. When we do our clinicals we are still following the rules to a tee. However, once we get into a nursing home we begin to notice that the other workers do not wash their hands all the times our training says we should. I have seen CNA’s go into rooms, begin work on patients and move on to the next room without so much as touching the faucet on the sink. I have seen gloves go on and come off without a thought of soap and water. It is actually very scary to know since we were taught how vital proper hand washing was! So, this is what I have to add to this skill information; no matter what other aids are doing and no matter how tempting it is to skip hand washing under certain circumstances, NEVER SKIP IT!

During your skills test you will be expected to do a full hand washing set. However, during the other skill sets you will only be asked to tell that this is when you would wash your hands. There are many areas in which you can make mistakes and still pass your exam, but hand washing is not one of them. If you miss the hand washing step, even though you are only announcing it, it is likely that you will not pass your exam. Hand washing is right up there with placing the call bell within the patients reach. Miss either of those steps during any skill and you may have to retest at a later date.

Hand washing: 6 steps to kill the germs on your hands

You wet your hands, lather up with soap and rinse away the germs. Washing your hands is pretty straightforward enough, isn’t it?

Well, maybe not.

Scottish scientists say there’s a six-step technique that’s the most effective at killing bacteria. It’s endorsed by the World Health Organization and is touted as better than the one advocated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, according to new findings out of Glasgow Caledon University in Scotland.

“Hand hygiene is regarded as the most important intervention to reduce healthcare-associated infections but there is limited evidence on which technique is most effective,” Dr. Jacqui Reilly, lead author, said in a press release.

“This study provides a foundation for effective best practices to implement on the frontlines of healthcare,” she said.

READ MORE: 5 ways to protect yourself from the flu

In the study, Reilly and her team watched 42 doctors and 78 nurses wash their hands after treating patients.

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They compared the WHO’s six-step process next to the CDC’s three-steps and found that the lengthier technique killed more germs, but it took longer: about 43 seconds compared to 35.

Here’s what the six-step process looks like (Steps 2 to 7):

What’s troubling is only 65 per cent of the study participants followed the entire hand-washing process even though the instructions were in front of them.

Other studies revealed just how poor hand hygiene is: in one Michigan State University paper, scientists found that only five per cent of people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill germs that can cause infections.

Thirty-three per cent didn’t even use soap and 10 per cent didn’t wash their hands at all.

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READ MORE: Many health care workers not handwashing properly

It takes about 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and water to effectively kill germs, according to the CDC. But the Michigan study found people were washing up for about six seconds on average.

As a rule of thumb, Dr. B. Louise Giles tells parents to teach their kids to rinse their hands with soap for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday or Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star so they’re thoroughly washing up.

“We know germs are on hands and with good hand washing – using soap and warm water – you’ll reduce the risk,” Giles, a Canadian doctor and pediatrician at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital, explained.

Soap and water work best but if you must, use anti-bacterial hand gel. In that case, make sure you aren’t using just a dime-sized amount. There has to be enough liquid to coat your hands.

Follow @Carmen_Chai

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

While it is true that regular soap and water does not actually kill microorganisms (they create a slippery surface that allows the organisms to “slide off”), antibacterial soaps are typically considered to be “overkill” for most purposes. The exception may be in a hospital where special situations are present (e.g., before invasive procedures, when caring for severely immuno-compromised patients, critical care areas, intensive care nurseries, etc.). Antibacterial agents should be chosen carefully based on their active ingredients and characteristics, and when persistent antibacterial or antimicrobial activity on the hands is desired.

When there is no soap or water available, one alternative is to use hand sanitizers or waterless hand scrubs. Some of these products are made of ethyl alcohol mixed with emollients (skin softeners) and other agents. They are often available as a gel, or on wipes or towelettes. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol. Sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs, and might not remove some chemicals. Hand sanitizers may have odours which may be irritating to some users.

  • Apply suggested amount to the palm of one hand based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Rub hands together.
  • Spread and rub the product over your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the preferred method for healthcare providers when the hands are not visibly soiled. The sanitizers can also be used by paramedics, home care attendants, or other mobile workers where hand washing facilities are not available. However, these agents are not effective when the hands are heavily contaminated with dirt, blood, or other organic materials. Hand washing with soap and water is recommended when hands are visibly soiled.

Why Is Hand Washing Important?

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