San 6 - Handwashing Hygiene



Part 6:  Handwashing Hygiene





Proper handwashing is essential to prevent the spread of disease through surface contact with bacteria, germs or other contaminants. It is an essential prerequisite to sanitization procedures and all contact with users and equipment.




Hands should be washed:

ü      before and after having direct contact with other individuals

ü      after removing gloves

ü      before handling equipment or devices to be used in patient care

ü      after contact with medical equipment in the immediate vicinity of the patient

ü      after contact with body fluids or excretions, mucous membranes, non-intact skin, or wound dressings

ü      after using the restroom




Hands may be washed using plain or anti-microbial soap and water, or rubbed with a waterless, alcohol-based product.


If using soap and water, the hands should be wet with clean water. This water need not be hot. In fact, workers who wash hands frequently should avoid using hot water due to the increased risk of dermatitis. The worker should use a sufficient amount of soap (plain or anti-microbial) to cover all surfaces of the hands. Hands should be rubbed vigorously on both palms and backs, using vigorous rotational motion to ensure that all surfaces are scrubbed. The fingers should be interlaced and interlocked to cover all surfaces of the fingers and nails. The hands should be rinsed with clean, running water, and then dried with a single-use towel. When finished, a towel should be used to turn off the faucet.


The waterless method requires an alcohol-based, waterless cleaner. The cleaner should cover all surfaces of the hands, then, the hands should be rubbed until dry. Anti-microbial soap should not be used at the same time as waterless soap.





The described procedure is taken from the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Healthcare, and is consistent with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).



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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.










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Other Information

Title: San 6 - Handwashing Hygiene
Module: Program Operations
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title:
Procedure: Sanitization
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 6:08 PM