When to wash your hands?
- Before preparing food
- Before eating
- Between handling raw and cooked or ready-to-eat food
- After going to the toilet or changing baby nappies
- After smoking
- After using a tissue or handkerchief
- After handling rubbish or working in the garden
- After handling animals
- After attending to sick children or other family members
Method of washing hands:
- Wet your hands with warm water
- Apply one dose of liquid soap and rub well for 15–20 seconds (or longer if the dirt is ingrained) across all surfaces of your hands and wrists to help remove dirt and germs
- Don’t forget the back 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 be present under them.
- Rinse well under running water and make sure all traces of soap are removed as residues may cause skin irritation.
- Pat your hands dry using clean towels or tissues. Make sure your hands are thoroughly dry. Dry under any rings you wear as they can be a source of future contamination if they remain moist.
Why use warm water?
Hand washing is more effective when done with warm water. Soap lathers (soaps up) better with warm water. The active ingredients on the surface of the soap are released more easily, making them more effective in cleaning your hands of dirt, grease and oils, without stripping away the natural oils in your skin. Using cold or hot water can damage the skin’s natural oils and cause dermatitis over time.
Why is liquid soap the best?
Generally, it is better to use liquid soap than a bar soap, particularly at work due to the following reasons:
- Hygiene – it is less likely to be contaminated
- Right amount – liquid soap dispensers do not dispense more than required (more is not better)
- Bar soap can sit in pools of water and become contaminated with many harmful germs
- Bar soap can dry out – people are less likely to use it to wash their hands because it is difficult to lather
- Dried-out bar soap will develop cracks, which can harbour dirt and germs.
Its fine to use bar soap at home, but it might help to keep it on a soap-rack (so it’s not sitting in a pool of water) and change it if it becomes old and cracked.
Take care of your hands
Handwashing is only one part of hand hygiene. Looking after your skin generally is important, as your skin is the perfect barrier against infection. After your hands have been dried thoroughly you can apply a water-based absorbent hand cream three to four times a day or more frequently if your hands are constantly in water. Always consult a doctor if a skin irritation develops or continues.
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