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We hear all the time about how important hand hygiene is and that we should be regularly washing our hands, especially after visits to the bathroom and before eating, but why is hand hygiene so important to our health?

In short, washing your hands properly is one of the main things you can do to prevent the spread of diseases. Good hand hygiene helps to reduce the likeliness of flu, food poisoning and healthcare associated infections being spread from person to person, with nearly 50% of all foodborne illness outbreaks being linked back to improper hand hygiene.   

But it’s not just a case of rinse your hands with water and you’re done, you need to make sure that you’re thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water every time you wash them, to ensure that all germs on your hands are killed. When you are washing your hands, you need to make sure that the tips of your fingers, the palms of your hands, your thumbs and your fingernails are all cleaned. Most people wash the palms of their hands and miss out everything else, when in fact most of the bacteria on our hands is on our fingertips and under fingernails, with bacteria doubling after using the bathroom.

It’s also important to know when you should be washing your hands as well as how, as this is another big contributor in preventing the spread of illnesses. You should be washing your hands after using the bathroom, before prepping and before eating food, when you’ve coughed or sneezed, when your hands are visibly dirty from work or other activities, after touching animals or animal waste, after handing rubbish and before and after visiting a hospital ward or other healthcare facility.

So, how can you ensure that you’re washing your hands correctly? Follow this ten-step method and you’ll be clean as a whistle:

  • Wet hands under warm running water
  • Add soap
  • Rub palms together to create lather
  • Rub the backs of hands vigorously with palms with fingers interlaced
  • Wash between fingers
  • Group fingers together, rub tips in lather on palm of opposite hand
  • Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice-versa
  • Rub the right wrist with the left palm and vice-versa
  • Rub backs of fingers against opposite palm
  • Rinse hands to remove all soap and dry hands thoroughly