Hand Hygiene Australia — The Medshop Guide to Washing Hands Correctly

Australia’s experience of the novel coronavirus has been, to date, less severe than the in US and many European countries. However, as states continue with lockdown measures and the government discusses the possibility of a mandatory app to trace citizens’ contact with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 carriers, it is clear that the threat is far from over.

The calls to remain at home or self-isolate, to wear masks and follow stricter hygiene protocols, and to minimise contact with others wherever possible, are now recognised as entirely necessary. The efficacy of these measures abroad is reflected in the flattening of the curve, and as long as everyone recognises these responsibilities, it is hoped that catastrophe can be avoided.

So, in order to reaffirm sanitary protocols and remind everyone part of mitigating the spread of the virus is simple as maintaining hand hygiene, here we detail the correct hand washing procedure to keep it fresh in your mind.

When to Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands should now be routine, and whenever you have returned home after being outside, or after you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze you should wash your hands thoroughly. However, there are plenty of other occasions when you should go through the process, and maintaining good habits now will protect you when lockdown measures are eased. Washing your hands often is important during the crisis, and during these key moments you should take extra care, both before and after:

  • Preparing food
  • Eating and drinking
  • Using the toilet
  • Touching garbage
  • Handling pets
  • Changing nappies or cleaning children
  • Caring for the sick
  • Treating a wound

 Additionally, with the rise of home deliveries of essential items and food, it is important to wash your hands after receiving packages, bags of food, or other items. Finally, any trip to the pharmacy or handling of pharmaceutical goods should always be preceded and followed by a thorough hand washing.

Hand Washing Steps

 The correct hand washing procedure is simple and only takes a few minutes at most, however, there are a few crucial points that should be adhered to:

Remove All Jewellery and Other Items

Jewellery such as rings or bracelets make it more difficult to wash your hands thoroughly. Additionally, plasters or bandages should be removed wherever possible as these can be home to pathogens. Once you have completed washing your hands, fresh ones can be applied.

Wet Hands and Apply Soap

Using warm to hot water, wet your hands thoroughly and apply standard soap or liquid soap. Warm water is generally better as this helps to kill pathogens and allows the soap to work more effectively, however, when used with soap, cold water is also effective.
Lather and Scrub

Lather the soap and scrub your hands for AT LEAST 20 SECONDS. Rub them together, lather the backs of your hands and also between your fingers. Ensure you spread the soap around and under your nails.

Rinse Your Hands

Rinse your hands under warm water where possible and remove all of the soap. Continue rubbing your hands together as you do this.

Dry Your Hands

Where possible, dry your hands with an air dryer. Alternatively, a clean towel or paper towel should be used. Dirty towels can help to spread pathogens.

Other Points to Think About

Following these simple handwashing procedures will help to minimise the threat of transmission of the virus between you, your family, and anyone else you may come into contact with. However, while out of the house, it is important to maintain hygiene standards even when handwashing facilities are difficult to access.

In these instances, hand sanitiser or another alcohol-based hand cleaning product should be used to help mitigate infections. While not as effective as handwashing procedures, they can be extremely useful when out and about.

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