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The 5 steps to clean hands - wet, soap, wash, rinse,dry
Hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways of stopping the spread of infection.
Hand hygiene refers to any method which effectively removes harmful microorganisms (germs). These include washing with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand sanitiser. For non-healthcare settings or soiled hands, the most effective way to remove microorganisms is to wash hands using soap and running water.
Hands should be washed:
In addition any cuts and abrasions on the hands or fingers should be covered with a water resistant dressing which should be changed as necessary or when the dressing becomes soiled.
To minimise chapping (reddening, roughening or cracking of skin) of hands, pat dry rather than rub them.
Hot air driers may be used.
If cloth towels are used, select a fresh towel each time.
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microorganisms (germs) on hands and should always be encouraged over the use of alcohol based hand sanitisers in a non-healthcare setting.
When soap and water are not readily available, alcohol based hand sanitisers or rubs are acceptable but only if the hands are not visibly soiled. The effectiveness of alcohol-based hand sanitisers is reduced when used on hands that are visibly soiled or dirty. Visible contamination and dirt should be removed before using hand sanitisers and can be achieved by using a hand wipe. Hand wipes may be useful when changing babies’ nappies if there are no facilities for washing with soap and water.