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

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

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 that pathogens that cause infection can be transferred from one place to another is by the hands, so by washing hands regularly we can reduce the risk of infection.

You should was 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 meet
  • 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 hand washing technique should last for about 20 seconds and the following steps should be used in sequence:

  1. Remove jewelry 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 palm of other hand with fingers interlaced
  5. Rub palm to palm with fingers interlaced
  6. Rub with 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 opposite palm in a circular motion
  9. Rub each wrist with opposite hand
  10. Rinse hands with water
  11. Use elbow to turn off 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 carry 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.