Only one in five people wash their hands with soap after going to the toilet. Many of those people will then go on to eat or prepare food for themselves or others leading to contamination and running the risk of causing illnesses such as food poisoning and flu.
Though your hands may look clean, they can still carry many harmful germs. Properly washing your hands removes dirt, viruses and bacteria to stop the spread to other people and objects.
However, when handling food - is not the only time you need to make sure to wash your hands. Hands easily become contaminated with bacteria from poo when going to the toilet, and this can be spread to other things you touch. This also means that you can pick up these germs when touching anything that others (who have not washed their hands) have come into contact with.
Wash your hands with soap and water any time:
- they are visibly dirty
- after going to the toilet, changing a nappy, handling potties etc.
- after sneezing, coughing and blowing your nose
- after contact with blood or bodily fluid
- before and after handling any food
- before and after handling any wounds or dressings, or someone who is ill
- when visiting a patient with diarrhoea
- after petting animals, including pets.
If you can’t get to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitisers do not eliminate all types of germs and might not remove harmful chemicals.
Hand sanitisers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. It is always best to clean hands with soap and water.
How is best to wash your hands?
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. The same amount of time it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or paper towel.
Adults and children alike can also become ill when touching their eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands and fingers. Don’t underestimate the power of hand washing, it can save you and your family from a fair few nasty bugs.