The importance of Handwashing

In your work, you will use your hands constantly. You will touch clients. You will handle supplies and equipment used in the treatment and care of clients. Microorganisms will get on your hands. They will come from clients or from the things they have touched. Your hands could carry these microorganisms to other persons and places. They could also be moved to your own face and mouth. Washing your hands frequently with lots of soap and friction is the best way to prevent this transfer of microorganisms.

* Guidelines to handwashing

* Wash your hands before and after each task and before and after direct client contact

* The water faucet is always considered dirty. This means it may harbor pathogens. Use paper towels to turn the faucet on and off.

* If your hands accidentally touch the inside of the sink, start over. Do the whole procedure again.

* Take soap from a dispenser, if possible, rather than using bar soap. Bar soap leaves pools of soapy water in the soap dish, which is then considered contaminated.

* Wash your hands before you put on gloves for a procedure and again after you remove the gloves.


1. Assemble your equipment:

Soap or detergent

Paper towels

Warm running water (if possible)

Wastepaper basket

Nail brush

2. Open a paper towel near the sink. This is considered your clean area. Put all your equipment on it. Leave it there until you are ready to leave the house.

3. Turn the faucet on with a paper towel held between your hands and the faucet. Adjust the water to a comfortable temperature.

4. Discard the paper towel in the wastepaper basket.

5. Completely wet your hands and wrists under the running water. Keep your fingertips pointed downward. Hold your hands lower than your elbows while washing. This is to prevent microorganisms from contaminating your arms. Holding your hands down prevents backflow over unwashed skin.

6. Apply soap

7. Work up a good lather. Spread it over the entire area of your hands and wrist. Get soap under your nails and between your fingers. Add water to the soap while washing. This keeps the soap from becoming too dry.

8. Use the nail brush on your nails.

9. Use a rotating and rubbing (friction) motion for a minimum of 15 seconds.

A. Rub vigorously

B. Rub one hand against the other hand and wrist

C. Rub between your fingers by interlacing them

D. Rub up and down to reach all skin surfaces on your hands and between your fingers

E. Rub the tips of your fingers against your palms to clean with friction around the nailbeds

10. Wash at least 2 inches above your wrists

11. Rinse well one hand at a time. Rinse from 2 inches above your wrists to hands. Hold your hands and fingertips down under the water

12. Dry thoroughly with paper towels

13. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet. Never touch the faucet with your hands after washing

14. Throw the paper towel into the waste-paper basket. Do not touch the basket

Hand Washing Quiz


1. You must wash your hands before and after each task? T OR F

2. You can turn the faucet off with your hands? T OR F

3. Washing hands frequently with lots of soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of microorganisms? T OR F

4. Wash your hands for a minimum of 60 seconds. T OR F

5. Wash hands from fingers to elbows each time. T OR F

Answer Key Hand Washing:

1. True

2. False

3. True

4. False

5. False