Hand sanitiser or washing your hands: What’s the best way to help stop germs from spreading?
Your hands come with germs, some living naturally on your skin and others you may pick up from the environment around you. This is normal and only becomes a potential issue when you pick up ‘bad’ germs, which can cause sickness if they get into your system or are passed onto another person. Because of this you need to be conscious about maintaining clean hands throughout the day.
Simple hand hygiene tips
- Clean hands: Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, lathering for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand rub.
- Cover your mouth and nose: When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
- When to wash: After using the toilet or changing nappies, before, during and after preparing food, before eating, after using tissues, before and after attending to a sick person.
What is the best hand washing procedure?
Here are the hand washing steps to help you avoid the spread of germs:
- Wet hands with warm water.
- Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces.
- Rub palms together (away from the water).
- Rubs fingers and thumbs, and the bits in between.
- Rub nails on palms.
- Rub the back of each hand.
- Rinse with clean, running water.
- Dry thoroughly with a clean towel or paper towel.
Use hand sanitiser to help kill germs on your hands
Hand sanitiser is a great product to have around the house and on your person when you’re out and about – for example if you use public transport.
A good-quality hand sanitiser will kill 99.9% of germs without the need for water.
Just remember that hand sanitiser shouldn’t replace washing your hands but are a good replacement if you can’t access soap and water. Hand sanitiser is at its most effective if your hands already look clean.
FAQ about how to hand wash
For how long should I wash my hands?
The entire procedure should take at least 40 seconds, with at least 20 seconds of lathering the soap – or roughly the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. You may not want to sing it out loud, but it's a handy reminder for you to take the time you need to wash your hands!
How often should I wash my hands every day?
That depends on your daily routine, how many people you interact with, and whether you are touching lots of communal objects or using public transport. In all these instances, be sure to wash your hands properly or use a hand sanitiser if they look clean.
What soap or hand wash should I use?
Generally liquid soap is recommended, but any soap is better than no soap as the combination of soap and water will remove more germs than water alone. The key is that you are following the proper procedure on hand washing and doing it regularly throughout the day.
How should I dry my hands?
The most hygienic way to dry your hands is with a paper towel.
How can I wash my hands properly if I don’t have access to soap or hand wash?
If you don’t have access to clean water and soap, it’s a good idea to carry Dettol Instant Hand Sanitiser which kills 99.9% of germs – useful if you’re out to grab a bite to eat or have been on public transport. Just make sure your hands look clean before using hand sanitiser so it is most effective. Apply a palmful of hand sanitiser into a cupped hand and massage it over both hands until it has dried.
When should I wash my hands vs use a sanitiser?
The goal is to wash your hands regularly when you have access to clean water and soap or hand wash, and if your hands are visibly dirty. If you are out and about then a high-quality hand sanitiser can kill germs without you needing to access water.
Do I still have to wash my hands if I haven’t been anywhere?
Yes, any surface that people touch regularly - countertops, door handles, mobile phones and handrails – can be a hotspot for bacterial transfer.
If my hands don’t look dirty, do I still need to wash them?
In our daily routine we’re constantly picking up germs, particularly after going to the toilet or preparing food. So it is important to know when to wash your hands and be able to do it properly.