How often to wash your hands?

Good hand hygiene is something we can all build into our lives and turn into a lasting habit. There are key moments throughout your day when you should wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser. By doing this you can help prevent the spread of disease, including the coronavirus. 

Most people know you should wash your hands after using the bathroom, but there are other times you may come into contact with germs. Once you get used to recognising these situations the easier it will be to get into the habit of good hand hygiene. 

How often should I wash my hands? 

The NHS recommends you should wash your hands:

  • After using the toilet or changing a nappy
  • Before and after handling raw foods like meat and vegetables
  • Before eating or handling food
  • After blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After touching animals, including pets, their food and after cleaning their cages

Extra handwashing and sanitising

During the coronavirus pandemic there are some extra times you should wash your hands. After you’ve been in a public place and touched any items or surfaces you should wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitiser. These are the times when in the past you may not have thought about using a hand sanitiser, so it’s good to get into the habit of bringing a portable size with you when you leave the house.

Good hand hygiene technique

Whether you wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser your technique really matters. Using only water, or a tiny squirt of soap on your fingertips won’t wash away the germs. Make sure you use a good teaspoon-size amount of liquid soap and work it into your hands, front and back, for 20 seconds or more.

If you need a timer you can hum the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice. But if that doesn’t appeal to your musical tastes mix it up with any lyrics you like. Anything from Beyonce to the Backstreet Boys goes as long as it takes you at least 20 seconds to sing. 

If you are using a hand sanitiser apply the right amount, check the label for this information, to the palm of one hand and rub all over your hands until they are dry. Remember sanitisers work best when hands aren’t visibly dirty or greasy. If you’ve been digging in the garden or working up a sweat playing sports, it’s best to wash with soap and water.