Demonstrate the recommended method for hand washing and describe what products should be used

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As a health and social care worker, it is important that you are able to demonstrate the correct hand washing technique.

Washing your hands regularly is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection in the workplace because it breaks the chain of infection. The most common way for pathogens that cause infection to be transferred from one place to another is by touch, so by washing hands regularly we can reduce the risk of infection.

You should wash your hands:

  • before and after close contact with an individual e.g. performing personal care
  • between visiting clients/as soon as you start or end your shift
  • before preparing food
  • before handling or administering medication
  • after handling raw food such as meat
  • after handling soiled linen or clinical waste
  • after touching animals or pets
  • before putting gloves on and after taking gloves off
  • after going to the toilet

Proper handwashing technique should last for about 30 seconds and the following steps should be used in sequence:

  1. Remove jewellery and wet hands with water
  2. Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces
  3. Rub hands palm to palm
  4. Rub back of each hand with the palm of the other hand with fingers interlaced
  5. Rub palm to palm with fingers interlaced
  6. Rub with the back of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked
  7. Rub each thumb clasped in opposite hand using a rotational movement
  8. Rub tips of fingers in the opposite palm in a circular motion
  9. Rub each wrist with the opposite hand
  10. Rinse hands with water
  11. Use elbow to turn off the tap
  12. Dry thoroughly with a single-use towel

Hand washing technique with soap and water.

You should also be aware of the different kinds of hand-washing products that are available.

In care settings, soap should ideally be obtained from a dispenser, rather than using a bar of soap which can be a reservoir for pathogens.

Antibacterial soaps kill bacterial pathogens as well as cleaning soiled hands. There is also evidence to suggest that they kill some fungi. Antiseptic soaps do not kill all bacteria but greatly slow down its growth.

Ideally, hands should not be dried on fabric towels as they can carry pathogens. One-use paper towels should be used or warm-air hand-driers to reduce the spread of infection.