Hand washing with soap under tap

We all know that washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs, but did you realise that 20 seconds is the recommended time for washing them? Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and drying them thoroughly, can give you time to contemplate.

It is recommended that you wash your hands before, during and after preparing food, as well as before eating food. If you're a carer or someone in your house is unwell - you need to wash your hands before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea. You should also was your hands after using the toilet, changing nappies or cleaning up someone who has used the toilet. If you are treating a wound or cut - you should wash your hands them before and after treatment.

In this time of Coronavirus disease COVID19, and with the upcoming cold and flu season, you should wash your hands after blowing your nose with a tissue, coughing into your sleeve, or sneezing into a tissue, your sleeve or elbow.

If you have pets or have been playing with animals you need to wash your hands after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, after handling pet food or pet treats. And wash your hands after touching rubbish or recycling, doing the gardening or work outside.

Follow these steps every time you wash your hands, and enjoy the contemplation time:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap.
  • Apply soap and lather well for 20 seconds (or longer if the dirt is ingrained).
  • Rub hands together rapidly across all surfaces of your hands and wrists. 
  • Don’t forget the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • If possible, remove rings and watches before you wash your hands, or ensure you move the rings to wash under them, as microorganisms can exist under them.
  • Rinse well under running water and make sure all traces of soap are removed.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
  • It is best to use paper towels (or single-use cloth towel). 
  • Dry under any rings, as they can be a source of future contamination if they remain moist.
  • Hot air driers can be used.

For more information on hand hygiene, visit the Better Health Channel.