Hand washing, also known as hand hygiene, is the act of cleaning hands for the purpose of removing soil, dirt, and microorganisms (USAID, 2004).
Hand washing should be done regularly before and after certain activities to reduce the spread of germs to keep one healthy. It’s quick, simple, and a win hygiene practice for everyone except the germ.
Health Benefits of Hand Washing
- Helps minimize spread of germs
- Effective strategy in outbreak management
- Reduce infant mortality resulting from home birth deliveries
- Improve length of growth in children under five
- Reduce mortality rate resulting from related respiratory diseases and diarrheal
- Keep kids from getting sick
- Minimize/avoid respiratory infections
Hand washing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. It involves five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry). Whether you are at home, at work, traveling, or already sick, hand washing can protect you, your family, and others.
Below are the basic steps to follow when washing your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to remove accessories such as rings and watches
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Clean accessories like rings to remove contaminations
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
USAID (2004). The Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP) – Tippy-Tap: A simple low-cost technology for hand washing when water is scarce”. Accessed 22 March, 2018.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Vessel Sanitation Program: General information on Hand Hygiene (2009); National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services. Accessed 22 March, 2018.