hand washing, hand sanitizer
hand washing, hand sanitizer

7 Steps of Hand Hygiene: WHO Guidelines

03 March 2022

Proper hand hygiene is one of the most important things people can do to prevent the spread of bacteria and infection. People are recommended to wash their hands regularly, especially after eating food and handling animal feed, pet food and animal waste. If there is no access to soap and water, then people should use alcohol based hand sanitizers. An alcohol based hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol to kill germs and bacteria effectively. 

According to medical expertise from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are seven basic steps for proper hand washing that people can all follow to keep their hands clean and healthy. These steps are also recommended by the Health Promotion Board of Singapore. In this blog post, we will discuss each of these steps in detail. 

Step 1: Begin with soap and water

The first step is to wet the hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). After the hands are wet, turn off the tap and apply soap or liquid hand wash. 

Step 2: Lather hands by rubbing them together with the soap

Rub palms of the hands together to create lather (foam). The bar soap should be rubbed between the left palm and the right one before it is applied to other surfaces of the hands and fingers. Be sure to cover all surfaces of the hands, including the palms, backs of hands, between fingers and under nails. 

Step 3: Interlace fingers and rub hands together

Interlace the fingers of the left hand with the right one, and rub them together vigorously. This will help to clean all surfaces of the hands.

Step 4: Rub the backs of hands, between the fingers, and under the nails

After the palms and fingers have been rubbed together, it is important to clean the backs of hands. Do this by rubbing them together. Make sure to also clean in between the fingers and under the nails. 

Step 5 : Continue rubbing for 20 seconds

Make sure to scrub all surfaces of the hands for at least 20 seconds. To measure this time , people can hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. 

Step 6: Rinse hands well under clean, running water

After scrubbing the hands for 20 seconds, rinse them with clean, running water. Rub the hands together to remove all of the soap. Be sure to also wash off any soap that may have gotten on the wrists. 

Step 7: Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them

The final step is to dry the hands using a clean disposable paper towel or to let them air dry. If using a towel, be sure to use a separate one for each person to avoid the spread of bacteria.

What are other tips to maintain hand hygiene?

Apart from following the seven steps of hand hygiene as outlined by the WHO, there are other ways to maintain good hand hygiene and protect each other from infection. Here are some of them:

1) Make sure to always have alcohol based hand sanitisers or a microshield handrub. To apply a hand sanitizer Singapore product, take a pea size amount and rub it all over the hands until it is dry.

2) Use a hand cream to keep the hands feeling soft and hydrated, and prevent hand irritation. While observing hand hygiene is good, it can be rather rough on the hands, and hand creams can help in this aspect.

3) Avoid touching the face as much as possible, as this is a common way to spread germs.

In a nutshell

The WHO provides specific guidelines for proper hand hygiene. Although these steps may seem basic, they are essential in preventing the spread of disease. Following these simple steps can help keep people and the community healthy.