Coronavirus: 12 simple steps to washing your hands properly

While there is not yet a cure for the coronavirus, nor is there a definitive way to prevent it, there is one piece of advice every major health organisation is recommending.

Washing your hands is a simple and proven way to prevent getting sick and passing on germs to other people.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) is advocating for people to wash their hands properly, to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.

But do you know how to wash your hands effectively? You might think it’s simply a combination of water, soap and singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, however, there is more to it than that.

The steps to washing your hands properly

WHO recommends several steps to ensure you are washing your hands correctly to prevent spreading germs, or getting yourself sick and doing so should take you between 40 to 60 seconds.

Step zero, is to wet your hands by placing them under running water, before you even add soap into the mix.

You should apply enough soap to cover all surfaces of your hand, according to WHO.

Simply sufficiently lathering up the soap is not enough, you start by rubbing the palms of of each hand using circular motions.

Steps three to seven ensure you are taking your hand washing game from amateur to expert.

For step three you take place the palm of one hand on the back of your other hand, interlacing your fingers and rubbing them together.

Then palm-to-palm, you repeat this motion of interlacing your fingers once again, so you rub off all the bacterial caught between them.

Picture of a person washing their hands in a basin with soap and water, by interlacing their fingers.
Steps five and six of this process ensure you get between each finger. Source: Getty Images

Interlocking your fingers and pressing your four fingers against the opposing hand’s palm, to clean off the back of your fingers.

Not forgetting your thumbs, for step six, rub your thumb in circular motions on your opposing hand and then switch hands to clean both your thumbs.

Then to ensure you have cleaned your finger tips, using one of your palms, rub your ‘clasped’ fingertips in circular motions and then do the same on the other hand, to complete step seven.

Only then, after you have followed all those steps adequately is it time to rinse off the soap.

It might be tempting to turn the tap off as soon as you have finished rinsing your hands, however WHO warns not to do that.

After rinsing off the soap, leave the tap on, and take a paper towel to wipe hands throughly.

Then, using a paper towel, turn the tap off. This way, you’re not touching a surface several people with dirty hands have touched before you.

How to use alcohol-based hand rub properly

Of course, if you do not have access to soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based rub to sanitise your hands.

The correct way to apply a sanitising rub is to follow the exact same steps you would follow for washing your hands, starting from step two through to seven.

The process for this should take between 20 to 30 seconds to ensure your hands are clean.

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