How To Clean & Disinfect Hands
How to perform hand hygiene in healthcare environments
When visiting someone in a healthcare facility, it is most important to practive proper hand hygiene to recude the risk of hospital acquired infections. Although your hands may look clean, germs are invisible and we can easily pick up bad germs from contact with other people or objects.
For patients, sometimes the body's natural defense system can be weakened which makes it harder to protect yourself from germs and infection. Healthcare acquired infections can result in severe illness, longer stays in hospital, slower recovery or complications after surgery.
When should I clean my hands?
It's most important to clean your hands during the following times:
- When entering/leaving a ward or healthcare facility
- After going to the toilet
- After blowing your nose
- After smoking
- After handling/petting animals
- Before, during and after preparing food
- Before and after eating food
- When your hands are visibly dirty
What should I clean my hands with?
When your hands are visibly dirty, the best methods to clean them is with soap and warm water or anti-bacterial wipes. If your hands are visibly clean but you are doing one of the above, you can use soap and water, hand wipes or an alcohol based hand gel such as Clinell sanitiser.
How should I clean my hands?
Follow the step by step guide guide below for at least a minute:
- Rub hands palm to palm
- Rub back of each hand with the palm of the other hand with fingers interlaced
- Rub palm to palm with fingers interlaced
- Rub with back of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked
- Rub each thumb clasped in opposite hand using rotational movement
- Rub tips of fingers in opposite palm in a circular motion
- Rub each wrist with opposite hand
With soap and water:
- Wet hands with water first
- Apply soap and follow above guide for at least 40-60 seconds
- Rinse hands with water
- Pat hands dry with paper towels and dispose of
With hand wipes:
- Take a wipe and unfold
- With the wipe between your hands, follow the numbered guide for at least one minute
- Dispose of the wipe in the appropriate waste bin
With hand gel:
- Squirt enough gel for both hands
- Rub hands together following the step by step guide for at least 30 seconds
- Allow hands to air dry
- Moisturise after if needed
Healthcare staff should follow the same guidance for hand hygiene as patients an visitors but should also perform it at the 5 moments recommended by the World Health Organization:
- Before touching a patient
- Before a procedure
- After a procedure or exposure to bodily fluids
- After touching a patient
- After touching a patients surroundings
They should also perform it before and after putting on gloves. Healthcare workers should always perform it infront of you, if you are worried that they haven't, feel free to remind them.
The advice above is based on information from hygiene and hand care experts Clinell.