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Hand Hygiene

Washing your hands correctly is the best way to stop the spread of infections.  

Everyone can help to prevent and stop the spread of antibiotic resistance! 

Eighty percent of common infections are spread by hands. Washing your hands at least five times a day has been shown to significantly decrease the frequency of colds, COVID-19, influenza (the “flu”) and other infections. Not only will it help keep you healthy, it will help prevent the spread of infectious diseases to others.


Washing your hands not only prevents you from getting sick, it reduces the risk of infecting others. If you don't wash your hands properly before coming into contact with others, you can infect them with the germs on your hands. Other people can also get sick from the germs that unwashed hands leave on shared objects such as doorknobs, keyboards and other equipment in the home or workplace.

  • Before and after preparing food, eating or feeding someone else
  • After using the washroom or helping someone use the washroom
  • Before and after changing diapers
  • After sneezing, coughing or using a tissue
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After handling pets or other animals
  • After handling animal waste
  • After handling shared objects

What kind of soap to use

  • Use plain soap that does not contain antibacterial agents. Plain soap will remove the dirt and grease that attract bad bacteria.
  • Plain soap will not kill the good bacteria that live on the hands.
  • Using antibacterial products unnecessarily increases the concentration of antibiotics in the water supply and in the environment and may contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Steps when using soap

  • Wet your hands with warm water.
  • Apply plain soap to your hands and rub together for 20 seconds (the length of time it takes to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Happy Birthday)
  • Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Rinse your hands well for 10 seconds under warm running water, using a rubbing motion.
  • Wipe and dry your hands gently with a paper towel or a clean towel. Drying them vigorously can damage the skin.
  • Turn off the tap using the paper towel so that you do not re-contaminate your hands. When using a public bathroom, use the same paper towel to open the door when you leave.

Steps when using alcohol-based hand rubs 

  • These products need to be at least 60% alcohol to be effective, so check the label.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs do not cause antibiotic resistance.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs don’t work if your hands are greasy or visibly dirty. These products don’t clean your hands and are not a substitute for handwashing. If your hands are visibly soiled, it is best to use soap and water.
  • Rub your hands together until the product has evaporated.
  • If dry skin is a problem, use a moisturizing lotion.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs are safe for children if used with supervision. Alcohol-based hand rubs are poisonous if ingested. Children should not put their hands in their mouths until the alcohol evaporates (about 15 seconds).

This information is taken from the Do Bugs Need Drugs? handwashing page and from The Benefits of Hand Washing (Health Canada)

SOURCE: Hand Hygiene ( )
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