Wash Your Hands!

This is one of the often-repeated instructions we’ve all heard from our parents from a very early age – and there are good reasons why this basic function is pushed home so hard by every generation.

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellent) says that one in 16 people in hospital pick up a nasty disease such as MRSA because someone hasn’t washed their hands. These diseases can be fatal.

Hand washing is a very simple task that, when carried out correctly, is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of infection.

Why do we need to wash our hands?

Each day germs collect on our hands. These germs are so small that we cannot see them with the naked eye – even hands which appear clean can be carrying germs – but some of them can cause infection. Washing your hands removes the germs that have collected on them, and so reduces the risk of you and others being affected by harmful germs.

When to wash your hands

You should always wash your hands:

  • After using the toilet/urinal/commode/bedpan.
  • Before eating or handling food.
  • If your hands are visibly dirty.



Experts have determined that washing your hands with hot water and soap for the time it takes to sing a verse of “Happy Birthday” should ensure any germs on your hands are destroyed.

So sing while you wash!


How to wash your hands

  • Wet your hands thoroughly before applying soap.
  • Vigorously massage all surfaces of both your hands with lather. Remember to pay special attention to the finger tips, thumbs and the area between the fingers as these are all frequently missed. Right handed people have a tendency to wash the left hand more thoroughly, and vice versa.
  • If you wear a ring, remember to wash the area underneath it.
  • Finally, make sure you rinse all the soap off your hands under running water, and then dry your hands thoroughly.


This article is based on a report by the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.