Effective hand washing is vitally important for your health and to help you protect those around you by preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses.

It takes at least fifteen seconds to wash your hands properly – this is about how long it takes to hum ‘Happy Birthday to You’ twice.

Encourage children to wash their hands by showing them how to do it, and by setting them a good example.

How to wash your hands:

  • Wet hands with water
  • Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces
  • Rub hands palm to palm
  • Right palm over the back of the left hand with interlaced fingers, then vice versa
  • Palm to palm with fingers interlaced
  • Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked
  • Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa
  • Rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa
  • Rinse hands with water
  • Dry thoroughly with towel.

This must take at least 15 seconds to be effective.

 If you can't get access to hand washing facilities, you can use an  alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based  hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of some microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers are not very effective and do not eliminate all types of germs.

Hand sanitizers  are not effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

How to use hand sanitizers

  • Read the label to see how much product to use, and for how long it should be on your hands.
  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are  dry.


Members of the Environmental Health Food Team visit local primary schools to promote the importance of hand-washing.

We show them how easily bacteria can be spread, and how few people wash and dry their hands properly using an ultra violet light box and ‘magic’ cream. The children are asked to imagine that the cream is bacteria, and given some of the cream to rub into their hands before placing their hands inside the UV cabinet and watch the cream glow in the light. They then wash their hands as they normally would and put them back into the cabinet. They are are always amazed at how much cream is still there. We then show them the correct way to wash their hands.

We can also bring the equipment to food businesses and carry out a short training session for their staff.

For more information, or if you would like us to visit your school or workplace, please contact us.