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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper hand hygiene, including frequent and proper hand washing, is one of the most effective ways to avoid spreading infectious diseases and maintain a healthy immune system.

Our hands come into contact daily with various surfaces, most likely breeding grounds for germs. If not for hand washing with Antibacterial Soap or Liquid Hand Wash, these germs can immensely contribute to transmitting harmful bacterial and viral infections, such as coronavirus (COVID-19), diarrhea, typhoid, MRSA, etc. 

This article will explain how to wash your hands properly and share various details, such as importance, benefits, and other must-know information about this hand hygiene practice. 

Why is washing my hands important?

Washing your hands is an essential hygiene habit for preventing the spread of various respiratory, diarrheal, and other diseases by stopping the spread of germs.

How does a virus on my hands lead to an infection in my body?

Contaminated hands are one of the most common ways for diseases to spread. The viruses on your hands can infiltrate your body whenever you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. 

Given the many things we touch daily — tables, chairs, laptops, door handles, elevator buttons, cellphones, etc. – it's easy for viruses living on these surfaces to hitch a ride on your hands.

According to a study, people touch their faces approximately 23 times per hour. Hence, knowing the proper hand washing steps, do’s, and don’ts is extremely important. 

When should you wash your hands?

Knowing when to wash your hands is equally important as knowing how to wash your hands properly. 

Wash hands before:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • Before taking medications 
  • Before picking up a baby or infant

Wash hands after:

  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
  • After coming back from outside 
  • After touching visibly dirty surfaces
  • After handling a pet
  • After cleaning the house, office, or any other place 
  • After touching surfaces that are frequently touched

Different types of hand washing

There are three separate types of handwashing: 


Social hand washing refers to cleansing your hands to remove visible dirt and debris to prevent bacterial growth and the transmission of infectious diseases. 

This type of hand washing should be performed using warm water and with Antibacterial Soap or Liquid Hand Wash for at least 20 seconds before eating, using the bathroom, and whenever someone comes in contact with someone else. 


Antiseptic hand washing is a more rigid hand washing experience that includes the removal of microorganisms from the skin surface. 

This type of hand washing is usually performed before and after contact with someone in the medical or healthcare facility or the food service industry. Antiseptic agents used to clean the skin surface include chlorhexidine and iodine.


Surgical hand washing is the most strict type used primarily before sterile operations, including surgical procedures. This type of hand washing uses an antimicrobial soap and includes rigorous scrubbing of hands and forearms for typically 2–5 minutes.

How do you wash your hands?

Below are the steps for the most effective hand washing experience, in line with the guidelines given by the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO):

  1. Wet your hands with preferably clean, running, and lukewarm water. 
  2. Lather up your hands with Antibacterial Soap or Liquid Hand Wash.
  3. Rub your hands together in a circular motion to initiate the scrubbing method. Place your right palm over the back of your left hand and rub with your fingers intertwined. After that, repeat the same method with your left palm over your right hand’s back. 
  4. Interlace your fingers and rub your palms to clean the spaces between them. Now, clean the backs of your fingers by rubbing them against your palms, and repeat the process for the other hand.
  5. Clean your thumb by overlapping one hand over the other and gently rotate it. Do the same process for the other thumb.
  6. Lastly, rub your fingertips on the palm of the opposite hand in a circular movement. Repeat the same method for your other hand. 
  7. Rinse your hands thoroughly with the running water. 
  8. Dry your hands and wrists with a clean towel, or let them air dry.

Wash for at least 20 seconds

Not washing your hands for a long enough time to ensure effective germ and bacteria removal is one mistake that can sabotage your hand washing experience

The recommended hand washing time is at least 20 seconds to ensure you cover all areas of your hands, including fingers, nails, and wrists, reducing the risk of contamination and the spread of illnesses.

Use running water

Use running water instead of stagnant water because it doesn’t get contaminated through use and helps remove dirt, bacteria, and viruses effectively. 

The continuous water flow rinses contaminants away, prevents them from reattaching to your hands, and maintains a consistent temperature, encouraging thorough hand washing.

What should you do if soap and water aren’t available?

Washing your hands with antibacterial soap or liquid hand wash and water is the best way to remove germs in almost every situation. 

However, if soap and water are unavailable, using a Hand Sanitizer or Antibacterial Multi-Use wipes that promise to eliminate 99.99% of germs is also viable.

Like handwashing, the effectiveness of hand sanitizers depends on using the right technique.

  1. Use enough sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands.
  2. Rub your hands together vigorously, ensuring you cover all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Continue rubbing your hands together for at least 20 seconds or until the sanitizer has dried completely. 

Sanitizer can be a decent alternative to soap and water hands. However, 

  • Sanitizers may not eliminate all kinds of germs.
  • When hands are visibly dirty or oily, the effectiveness of hand sanitizers can diminish.
  • Hand sanitizers may not eliminate potentially harmful chemicals such as pesticides from hands.

How do you prevent dry or damaged skin?

Repetitive hand washing or using too much hand sanitizer can shred the proteins in the top skin layer, resulting in dry, irritated, raw skin and an increased risk of skin infection

To maintain good hand hygiene and healthy skin simultaneously, medical experts suggest the following tips: 

  1. Avoid hot water and limit bath time: Showers or baths and hot water strips the skin’s natural oils. Use warm water and moisturizing soap, and shower once a day for no longer than 5-10 minutes.

  2. Use skin moisturizers: Apply skin moisturizer several times a day, especially after hand washing or bathing, while your skin is still moist. Look for moisturizers that help keep water from leaving your skin. These include moisturizers with ingredients that are:
  • Occlusive, such as lanolin acid, caprylic/capric triglycerides, mineral oil, or squalene.
  • Humectants, such as lactate, glycerin, or honey.
  • Emollients, such as aloe vera, dimethicone, or isopropyl myristate.

Additional tips for good hand hygiene

  • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or elbow crevice when coughing or sneezing.
  • Regularly clean under your nails to ensure they are free of dirt, dust, and germs.
  • Wear disposable gloves before handling dirty nappies or cleaning up blood or other body fluids.
  • When using cloth towels to dry your hands, hang the towel up to dry after each use, and launder the towels regularly.

The bottom line 

Effective hand hygiene, especially hand washing should be routine, extending beyond pandemics and outbreaks.

It's a well-established method that should be consistently and consciously followed to significantly impact personal, community, and worldwide well-being.

Although washing your hands with Antibacterial Soap or Liquid Hand Wash with running water is preferred, a dermatologically tested, rinse-free, and non-sticky Hand Sanitizer can also be an effective option. 


Why is antibacterial soap better than plain soap for hand washing?

Antibacterial soap is better than plain soap because it is enriched with moisturizers, dermatologically tested, and offers 99.9% protection against germs, which helps prevent illnesses and results in fewer cross-contamination of food and other household surfaces.

What is the most important part of hand washing?

Friction, generated through vigorous scrubbing, is crucial in effective hand washing. Increased scrubbing leads to greater hand-to-hand friction, resulting in the maximum removal of pathogens.

How does handwashing with soap and water remove germs and chemicals?

Antibacterial soap and water form a lather, which creates pockets called micelles that trap and remove dirt, germs, and chemicals from the hands. Scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds is the key to creating a lather. This action is necessary to physically break down and eliminate germs and chemicals from your skin.

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