Hand Washing Guide in 8 Steps to virus-free hand wash

The Definitive Guide to Hand Washing in 8 Steps

You’re Not Washing Your Hands the Right Way Unless You Follow These 8 Steps

Your definitive guide to washing your hands to prevent illness and infection.

A quick suds-up, rinse and toweling off should be sufficient for washing your hands after using the restroom… right? Not quite. Are you and your employees washing your hands the right way to you keep hands really clean, avoid spreading germs and cut down on antibiotic resistance? If your establishment serves children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems, this is particularly important.

The point is, germs spread so very easily! Recent studies show that commonly-touched surfaces like light switches, door handles, your phone, computer keyboards and the money in your wallet (94% of dollar bills have traces of poop on them -- gross) are some of the most filthy, germy surfaces you can touch. 

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and discuss the right way to wash your hands and prevent the spread of germs! Here’s our definitive guide to washing your hands:


1. Get your hands wet first.

Don’t just go straight for the soap. Getting your hands wet first primes your skin for the soap, so that it can get down into crevices and folds more effectively than when your hands are dry. So, turn on the tap and get your hands really wet first.

2. Squirt enough soap from the soap dispenser to lather your hands well.

You will need enough soap to truly cover your hands in foam, or to be able to rub up a good lather that will cover both hands thoroughly There are several types of restroom soap dispensers available, so this may vary depending on what comes out. Soaps that come out as foam may need a couple of squirts, while liquid soaps may need just one squirt, but need more rubbing to work up a good lather.

3. Rub-a-dub dub! Scrub soapy hands for at least 30 seconds to one minute.

Thoroughly scrub the palms of your hands, and then move to the backs of your hands and keep scrubbing. Scrub between the fingers and around your thumb. Get under the fingernails too. Rub your fingers between each other really well to get the soap down in there. Being this thorough ensures that you really scrub off any dirt and microbes that can get embedded in between skin folds and under fingernails.

4. Rinse the lather off completely

Keep rubbing as you rinse the soap off of your hands to make sure it all comes off. All the grime that was on your hands should now be in the bubbles you’ve lathered up, so you’ll need to make sure all those bubbles go down the drain, taking the dirt with them.

5. But how do I turn off the tap after I wash my hands?

After going to all this trouble getting your hands really clean, you don’t want to touch the dirty tap handle again. You have a couple of options here: You can use your elbow to turn the tap off, or you can use the paper towel you’ve dried your hands with to turn it off. More about drying hands in the next step...

6. Dry off your hands.

There should be at least one paper towel dispenser near the sinks, preferably one of the no-touch variety. If you have to touch a lever to get it going, use your elbow if possible. Once you have a paper towel, pat your hands dry. But before you toss it in the trash, look around at your restroom exit and water turn-off options. Use the paper towel to turn off the tap.

7. Exit the restroom without touching handles or knobs, if possible.

If you need to use a handle to pull open the restroom door, use that paper towel on the handle, not your freshly-washed hands. We suggest keeping the garbage can near the restroom door to make disposal easier without making people touch the door handle. If the door can be pushed open with a hip, shoulder or elbow, avoid using your hands at all.

8. Use hand sanitizer if needed.

If the ergonomics of your restroom prevent you from following these steps exactly (e.g. you have to touch the door handle to get out of the restroom for some reason) find the nearest hand sanitizing station for a spritz and a rub.

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Hand Washing FAQ

These are some other questions you may have about keeping your hands clean to prevent the spread of germs:

When should I wash my hands?

Always wash your hands…

  • After going to the toilet
  • Before eating
  • After blowing your nose
  • Whenever they get dirty
  • After prolonged use of your phone, computer keyboard
  • After handling money

You’ll also want to wash your hands more during flu season and if you’re coughing and sneezing a lot, even if you are good about coughing into your elbow.

Why should I wash my hands so often?

This CDC poster has a lot of reasons for you, but the most important include:

  • Preventing the spread of flu
  • Preventing the spread of colds and other upper respiratory illnesses
  • Preventing the spread of gastrointestinal illness
  • Avoiding eye infections (from rubbing your eyes with your hands)
  • Helping people with low immunity levels avoid getting sick
  • Decrease sick time that dents work and school schedules
  • Reduce healthcare costs and doctor visits
  • Fighting against antibiotic resistance

Simply put, proper hand washing can save lives, particularly in a world where diseases are starting to develop resistance to the medications we’ve long used to treat them. It’s such a simple, easy step that we can all take to help ourselves and everyone in our community!

What if there’s no way to wash my hands where I am?

Employers, schools, businesses and other public places should always maintain hand-washing supplies in their restrooms. A reliable restroom supply service can prevent situations like this. But if you run across such a situation, alert a supervisor immediately, and make sure to carry some hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes you can use in a pinch.

In addition to following correct hand-washing protocols, you’ll want to make sure to disinfect those commonly-touched surfaces that can harbor germs as well! Wipe them down on a regular basis with a disinfecting wipe.

Contact Loyal Workplace Hygiene Solutions at (703) 361-7888 for regular restroom and breakroom soap dispenser and paper towel dispenser service, as well as hand sanitizing stations.

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