Washing one’s hands could be one of the most important ways of maintaining personal hygiene. Diseases can easily spread through our hands because germs get accumulated on them as we touch a large number of things through the course of a day. This is why washing hands becomes extremely important. To protect ourselves and the others around us from harmful chemicals, dirt, and disease-causing germs, following the steps for proper handwashing is of utmost importance. To clean your hands, you must follow the proper handwashing technique.
Especially under the present circumstances, when the coronavirus pandemic has been raging, claiming millions of lives, learning how to properly wash your hands is essential to protect yourself and your loved ones. According to various scientific studies, keeping your hands clean is a must for preventing the transmission of infectious diseases. While most of us generally think that our hands are clean, that might not be the case in reality. To ensure that your hands are clean simply washing hands in tap water is not enough. Read this article to find out how to properly wash your hands and strictly follow the steps if you are not doing so already.
Five steps for proper handwashing
To ensure that your hands are thoroughly clean and free from all harmful germs, you should follow the guidance provided by medical practitioners and established medical journals while washing hands. The steps mentioned below constitute the proper handwashing technique and should be followed while cleaning hands. Follow these steps for proper handwashing to protect yourself and the people around you from catching deadly diseases.
- To wash your hands using the proper handwashing technique, first use some clean, running tap water, either warm or cold, to wet your hands thoroughly. After this, apply soap to both of your hands. It is essential to use clean, running water, as the use of standing water that has been used before may itself be contaminated. Thus, using such water would do you no good. Instead, it might contaminate your hands more than they already were. The temperature of the water being used does not cause any difference in this case. Using soap while washing hands is a must. This is because the surfactants present in the soap clear microbes and dirt from your skin. Although there are various brands of soap claiming that their product has special antibacterial ingredients, studies have indicated that such products do not have any added benefits for your health. Therefore, for washing hands properly, the use of plain soap would serve the purpose. To save water do remember to turn off the faucet after you have rinsed your hands, as this can prevent the wastage of water.
- Lather well by rubbing your hands together after applying soap. This is important because scrubbing and lathering produce friction while washing hands which helps in getting rid of impurities like grease, dirt, and harmful microbes that might be present on your hands. Microbes can be present on all the regions of your hand, including the back, between the fingers, and under the nails. Therefore, a proper handwashing technique would essentially involve cleaning these parts of your hands well. Be sure to reach these difficult regions, especially the regions under your nails and between your fingers. Unless you have cleaned all these parts, washing hands would not completely clean them.
- Confused about how long are you supposed to wash your hands? Keep lathering and scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds before washing them. Although it is difficult to specifically ascertain how long are you supposed to wash your hands, scientific evidence suggests that washing them for about 15-30 seconds is more effective in terms of germ removal. Washing hands for a shorter timespan exposes you to the risk of carrying residual germs in your hands which can continue to spread diseases. However, the optimum time limit for washing hands depends on a large number of factors, including the amount of visible dirt on your hands and your exposure to germs. For example, hand washing steps for nurses would include a longer period since they are more likely to come in contact with harmful germs that might be spread from them to other vulnerable patients.
- Wash your wands clean. After using soap and lathering for about 20 seconds, rinse your hands thoroughly under running water. After the soap has cleaned the dirt and germs from your hands, washing them thoroughly would reduce the chances of skin irritation. This is an essential step in the proper handwashing technique as remnants of soap on your hands can cause germs to linger, and can even result in skin infection. Therefore, washing hands with clean water after having used soap on them is always advisable.
- Wipe your hands with a clean cloth to remove water from them. You can also air-dry your hands after washing them. This helps in maintaining the cleanliness of your hands as germs can very easily be transferred from wet hands. However, to follow the proper handwashing technique, make sure you use only a clean cloth or towel to wipe them with. Using a dirty cloth will reintroduce germs to your skin. Air drying your hands can be just as effective.
When should you wash your hands?
Now that you have learned how to properly wash your hands, the next thing that you must know is when to wash your hands. Just following the steps for proper handwashing is not enough unless you know when to follow them. Washing hands frequently, especially whenever you come in contact with germs or are about to touch someone else can help in preventing the spread of germs very effectively. Wash your hands with extra care and strictly follow the steps for proper handwashing during these important times:
- During food preparation
- After you have touched an animal, fed an animal, or disposed of animal waste
- Before and after a meal
- After you have blown your nose, coughed, or sneezed
- After cleaning a child who went to the toilet or after touching soiled diapers
- While caring for a sick person at home who has diarrhea, fever, vomiting, or other diseases that spread easily
- After disposing of garbage
- While treating an open wound or a cut
- After going to the toilet
- After having fed your pet
Washing hands before and after having touched another person is essential to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. These guidelines are to be followed strictly especially while preparing meals or eating. Clean your hands by following steps for proper handwashing every time you come in contact with a probable source of germs like garbage and human or animal excreta or after going to the toilet. Every time you wash your hands, it is necessary to follow the proper handwashing technique.
Effective handwashing practices are necessary to ensure the protection of your family and yourself against disease-causing germs. Medical research indicates that washing hands and keeping them clean can largely reduce the rates of several respiratory and digestive diseases. Especially during the present circumstances, a major tool in our hands to combat the pandemic is washing hands frequently and effectively. For this purpose, all of us need to follow the steps for proper handwashing mentioned above.