Hand hygiene is the term used for cleaning your hands, whether by washing with soap and water or by using a waterless or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Why is hand hygiene so important?
Hand hygiene is the single most important action you can take to stop the spread of germs.
When should I use soap and water instead of hand sanitizer?
There are certain situations when you would want to use soap and water instead of hand sanitizer. This includes before eating, after using the bathroom or if your hands are visibly dirty. For all other situations, you can use hand sanitizer or soap and water.
How can I clean my hands with hand sanitizer?
Pump or squirt a coin-sized amount of hand sanitizer into the palm of one hand. Make sure to use enough hand sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands. This includes all fingers, your thumb, your nails and between your fingers.
Rub your hands together to make sure the sanitizer covers all surfaces of your hands. Don’t forget your fingers, thumbs and nails too!
Rub your hands together until the sanitizer has completely dried.
How can I clean my hands with soap and water?
To wash your hands with soap and water, follow these steps:
Get a paper towel ready. You will use this to dry your hands and turn off the faucet when you’re done washing your hands.
Wet your hands with warm water.
Apply enough soap to cover all surfaces of your hands. This includes all fingers, your thumb, your nails and between your fingers.
Scrub your hands together for 20 seconds. Be sure to cover all surfaces of your hands. Don’t forget your fingers, thumbs and nails too. Hint: Sing a song you know twice through to get to 20 seconds! For example, sing your ABCs, “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Rinse your hands and pat them dry with a paper towel. Turn the faucet off with a paper towel as well.
Rev. 5/2022. MassGeneral for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treat any medical conditions.