Hand Hygiene (Hand Washing)
Hand hygiene is the act of cleaning your hands to reduce the number of germs on them. Proper hand hygiene is one of the most important things you can do to prevent infections. Hand hygiene should be done often, including:
- After touching raw meat and fish.
- Before and after preparing a meal.
- Before and after caring for a sick person or cleaning a cut or wound.
- After using the bathroom.
- After touching bodily fluids such as urine, stool, mucous, or blood.
- After touching animal waste.
- After touching garbage.
There are two ways of doing hand hygiene.
- The first is by washing your hands with soap and water.
- The second is the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
When you see dirt on your hands, hand hygiene should be done with soap and water. Below are the directions to perform the two types of hand hygiene.
Soap and Water
- Turn on the water and wet your hands.
- Apply soap.
- Rub your hands together to lather the soap, making sure you cover the palms, back of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails.
- After scrubbing your entire hands for 20 seconds (you can either count to twenty or sing "happy birthday" twice), rinse your hands with clean, running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. You can also let them air dry.
- Turn off the running water using the towel or paper towel used to dry your hands.
Alcohol-Based Gel/Foam Sanitizer
- Place the right amount of gel/foam on the palm of one hand. Most gels/foams dispense the right amount of sanitizer, but you may want to check the directions on the product label to make sure you use the correct amount.
- Rub your hands together, being sure to cover your palms, backs of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Keep rubbing your hands until they are dry.
Hand hygiene is very important while you are receiving treatment for cancer – for both you and your visitors. During treatment your immune system may be compromised, making you more prone to infections. If you have any questions about hand hygiene, please ask your health care provider.
Adapted from "Wash Your Hands"