Wash often. Use soap. 20 seconds. Then dry. This kills the virus by bursting its protective bubble. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
How to wash your hands properly
- Step 1: Wet hands with running water
- Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover wet hands
- Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including back of hands, between fingers and under nails – for at least 20 seconds
- Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with running water
- Step 5: Dry hands with a clean cloth, single-use towel or blow drier.
How to use hand sanitiser
The same goes for hand sanitiser: use a sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub it into your hands for at least 20 seconds to ensure full coverage.
When should I wash my hands?
Wash your hands regularly, especially at the following times:
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After visiting a public space, including public transport, markets and places of worship
- After touching surfaces outside of the home
- After touching money
- Before, during and after caring for a sick or vulnerable person
- Before and after eating.
Always wash your hands at the following times:
- After using the toilet
- Before and after eating
- After handling rubbish
- After touching animals and pets
- After changing babies’ nappies or helping children use the toilet
- When your hands are visibly dirty.
Do I need to use warm water to wash my hands?
No, you can use any temperature of water to wash your hands. Cold water and warm water both kill germs and viruses – as long as you use soap.
Which is better: washing your hands or using hand sanitiser?
Handwashing with soap and water or using hand sanitiser, when done correctly, are both highly effective at killing most germs and viruses. Hand sanitiser is often more convenient when you are outside of the home, but can be expensive or difficult to find in emergency contexts.
How can I help my child wash their hands?
You can make handwashing easier for children by setting up a stool so they can reach water and soap by themselves. You can make it fun for them by singing their favourite songs while you help them rub their hands.
Do I need to dry my hands with a towel?
Germs spread more easily from wet skin than from dry skin, so drying your hands completely is an important step. Paper towels or clean cloths are the most effective way to remove germs without spreading them to other surfaces.