How to wash your hands

It is your health

This article was written in collaboration with the Canadian Public Health Agency.

On this page:

  • Problem
  • Background
  • How to wash your hands reduces the health risks
  • Appropriate hand washing methods
  • Minimize the risk
  • The role of the government of Canada
  • Do you need more information?


Washing your hands properly (or using alcohol-based hand lotion) is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from many infectious diseases, such as the flu (“flu”) and the common cold. Not only will it help you stay healthy, it will also prevent the spread of infectious diseases to others.


Even if your hands look clean, they can carry germs. Hands trap microorganisms (germs) in many ways.

When sick people sneeze or cough, the germs that make them sick are thrown into the air as tiny droplets. If these droplets get into your hands and then touch your mouth, eyes or nose without washing away the germs, you are the carrier of the infection. You can also get sick if you don’t wash your hands before and after preparing food, after processing raw meat, and after using the bathroom.

Washing your hands not only prevents you from getting sick, but also reduces the risk of infecting others. If you don’t wash your hands well before contacting others, you can infect them with germs on your hands. Other people can also develop germs that unwashed hands leave on common items like doorknobs, keyboards, and other equipment in the home or workplace.

How to wash your hands reduces the health risks

Body-to-body contact can spread mild conditions such as the common cold, but also more serious or life-threatening illnesses. Infectious diseases pose a particular risk to the very young, the elderly, people with a pre-existing disease, and people with weak immune systems such as people with HIV or AIDS.

Appropriate hand washing methods

While washing your hands may seem like a simple task, follow the steps below to completely remove germs from your hands.

The use of soap

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are useful when soap and water are not available. In most cases, antibacterial soap is not necessary for safe and effective hand hygiene.
  • Remove any jewelry from your hands or arms and wet your hands with warm water. Add plain soap and scrub your hands, making sure all surfaces are soapy for at least 15 seconds. How long do they last 15 seconds? Singing time Happy birthday.
  • Wash the front and back of the hand, as well as between the fingers and under the nails.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly under warm running water with rubbing movements.
  • Gently wipe and dry your hands with a clean paper towel or towel. Drying them vigorously can damage the skin.
  • Close the tap with a paper towel so you don’t get your hands dirty again. When using a public restroom, use the same paper towel to open the door when you leave.
  • If dry skin is a problem, use a moisturizing lotion.

If you have sensitive skin or are in a position where you need to constantly wash your hands (as a healthcare professional should), you may want to use an alcohol-based rubbing agent instead.

Use of alcohol-based hand towels

  • If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand towel.
  • If your hands are visibly dirty, it is best to use soap and water. If you can’t wash with soap and water, use a tissue to remove the dirt, then scrub your alcohol-based hands.
  • Use hand scrubbing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure your hands are dry as wet hands will dilute the product.
  • Use a sufficient amount of product to cover all surfaces of the hands and fingers.
  • Rub your hands until the product evaporates. If dry skin is a problem, use a moisturizing lotion.

Minimize the risks

Here are other steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

  • Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing, or using a tissue, before and after eating, before preparing meals, after working with raw meat, after stroking your pet, and after being in the bathroom.
  • When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue or bring your hand to your face and aim for the sleeve. Don’t sneeze in your hand. Throw away the wipes as soon as you use them
  • Keep your home and office surfaces free from germs by cleaning them. Handles, light switches, telephones and keyboards are especially important for cleaning.
  • If you have children, teach them about hygiene and proper hand washing. Small children should be supervised while washing their hands.
  • If you are using a bar of soap, store it in a self-draining holder that can be thoroughly cleaned before adding a new bar of soap.
  • Do not use a damp cloth to wash the hands of a group of children.
  • Do not use a bowl of standing water to rinse your hands.
  • Do not use a normal towel.
  • Do not use disposable sponges or cloths for cleaning, unless you change them daily and wash them with detergent. Germs thrive on moist surfaces.

The role of the government of Canada

The Canadian Public Health Agency (PHAC) publishes infection control guidelines for use by provinces, territories, and health care organizations.

Working with provinces and local governments, NGOs and health care providers, PHAC develops evidence-based national standards and policies, promotes information sharing, and engages in disease prevention and promotional activities.

Do you need more information?

For more information, visit the following websites: