Keeping your hands clean by following proper washing and drying procedures, is vital to stopping the spread of germs in kitchens and food production areas. Your hands are used every day to touch many things such as food, pets, and common items like doorknobs and handles. All of these have germs and bacteria on them, which in turn can very easily be transported by your hands. Washing them is a simple and effective way to stop this and to help prevent diseases, such as colds, flu, and food poisoning.

How to wash your hands

Although there are different hand washing methods out there, most of the procedures are very similar in nature. Symbolic hand rinsing where a person may just put their hands under a running tap is not the proper way to cleanse them thoroughly. Water by itself will not be able to remove many fats, oils, and proteins, all of which can all harbour germs. For effective cleaning you should use the procedure below as a way to clear away as much bacteria as possible.

  • If you are wearing any rings then it is best to take them off first.
  • First of all wet your hands thoroughly with running water (preferably mild in temperature, but it can be hot or cold).
  • Apply soap (antibacterial soap isn’t necessary, any bar or liquid soap will do).
  • Start to rub your hands together to make a lather, make sure you scrub both sides of your hands, between your fingers, your wrists and under your nails.
  • Keep rubbing them for at least 20 seconds (it may be difficult to time yourself precisely, but you should get it roughly right).
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly with running water, making sure to remove all traces of soap.
  • Dry your hands, preferably with a paper towel, however if this is not available then use a warm hand dryer or cotton towel.
  • For further protection you may also want to consider turning off the water taps with a towel or your elbows.

When should you wash your hands

  • Before, during and after handling any food.
  • After going to the toilet.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Importance of hand washing
It is important because the most common way that germs are spread is by peoples hands. Washing your hands properly with soap and warm water is the single most important thing you can do to help reduce the spread of infections and help protect you, your family and those around you.

The limitations of hand washing
Although hand washing can help to protect people from the bacteria and diseases transmitted through direct physical contact, it cannot kill all of the germs out there. It cannot also protect you  against from droplet and airborne diseases, such as measles, chickenpox, influenza, and tuberculosis etc.

Alcohol based hand sanitizers
If you do not have easy access to clean running water and soap, then you can use a alcohol based cleaning disinfectant (try to have one that contains at least 60% ethyl alcohol). These antibacterial products are normally alcohol-based, although some versions do exist now that are alcohol-free.
One of the downsides of these hand antiseptics is that they are not effective to clean hands that are visibly dirty.

Despite their limitations, they are very useful for emergency situations where basic essentially are not available i.e. areas of natural disasters etc. They are also popular with people who lead busy lives and are constantly on the go, as they do not require water, and almost dry instantly without the need for towels or hand dryers.

How to wash your hands using a alcohol based hand antiseptic

  • Squeeze or spray the liquid onto the palm of one hand.
  • Start to rub it all over your hands and in-between your fingers.
  • Keep doing this until your hands are completely dry.

Warm soapy water is best
Mild warm water is much more effective at removing visible oils and dirt than cold water.

Solid or liquid soap
Some people feel that solid soaps can spread germs because many different people use them as they are reusable. However this is unlikely as any germs are likely to be rinsed off with the foam and lather under a tap. If you are concerned then you may want to try to keep any bars of soap ‘dry’ and avoid leaving them constantly wet, this way they’re less likely to harbour bacteria (which thrive in wet, moist places).

Antibacterial soaps
Some soaps contain antibacterial chemicals which are specifically there to kill bacteria and microbes. There are different opinions on whether these antibacterial soaps actually work, and are any better than ‘normal’ ones.


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