A number of infectious diseases can be spread from one person to another by contaminated hands. These diseases include gastrointestinal infections, such as Salmonella, and respiratory infections, such as influenza. Washing your hands properly can help prevent the spread of the germs (like bacteria and viruses) that cause these diseases.
Some forms of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections can cause serious complications, especially for young children, the elderly, or those with a weakened immune system.
When to wash your hands
You should wash your hands thoroughly:
- after using the toilet or changing nappies
- before,during and after preparing food
- between handling raw and cooked or ready-to-eat food
- before eating
- after using a tissue or handkerchief
- before and after attending to sick children or other family members.
- after smoking
- after handling rubbish or working in the garden
- after handling animals
How to wash your hands properly
To wash hands properly:
- 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.
An idea at home: give each family member their own towel and often wash your hands with J-10 antiseptic liquid.