Handwashing Techniques 101: A Review on How to Wash Hands Properly

Sometimes, it’s not offices or toilets that are causing people to get sick. Often times, it is the lack of very basic hygiene practices like proper handwashing techniques that can quickly affect a person’s health. It’s so easy to overlook this basic procedure especially after using the toilet. Just running water through your hands is not enough. Quickly rinsing with soap and water won’t do either. So what’s the proper way of washing hands?

Avoid touching the sink

This includes faucet controls, which may be contaminated. Use a paper towel to turn it on the water before you let your hands and wrists under the stream. Do the same when you need to turn the faucet off. If you’re out of paper towels, you can use your elbow instead.

Use Soap Liberally

Some people use too little or too much soap prior to washing. Apply a liberal amount–just enough so that it will cover all the surfaces of your hands. Once you do, work it into a lather and rub your hands together vigorously. Rub your palms together and interlace your fingers. Work your way over the back of your hands as well as around and under your rings–if you are wearing any. Some would prefer to remove their rings before washing their hands. Don’t forget to wash around cuticles and clean under your fingernails. For a more graphic demonstration of proper handwashing, you can check this poster.

Sing Happy Birthday

If you’re wondering the length of time needed to wash your hands, just sing “Happy birthday.” Not aloud of course. You can hum if you like. But if it makes you feel silly then just sing it quietly, in your mind. This is the easiest way to remember how long you should be washing your hands. Mentally finish a verse of “Happy Birthday” as you wash your hands to ensure that any germs sticking to your hands will be completely eradicated.

Rinse and Dry

After finishing a verse of the birthday song while hand washing, thoroughly rinse your hands under running water. The steady stream helps wash aways the dirt from your soiled hands. Make sure that your fingers are pointed downward while rinsing to avoid dripping water–and possibly contamination–towards your elbows. Dry your hands with a paper towel and dispose after use. Take another towel and use it to turn off the tap.

In the case when handwashing facilities are not readily available, you can use alcohol hand rub or antiseptic wipes. Just make sure that you re-wash your hands as soon as you find a restroom with soap and running water.

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