Washing your hands | When and how you should wash your hands?

Washing your hands regularly is an easy way to protect yourself from viruses, bacteria, and other germs – including the coronavirus (COVID-19). However, hand washing is only effective if you use the right soap or sanitiser, and if you wash thoroughly enough. Here's everything you should know about washing your hands, whether it's a global pandemic or not.

Why washing your hands is important

Frequent hand washing is important because it helps stop the spread of illnesses. In other words, the more you wash your hands, the less likely you are to get sick

It makes sense when you think about it – we're constantly touching different objects, whether it's a cell phone or a remote control, and these objects are contaminated with different bugs and germs. If we don't wash our hands regularly, we make it easy for these germs to get inside our bodies and cause illness. 

It's unclear how long COVID-19 lasts on surfaces, but since some coronaviruses like SARS and MERS can last on surfaces for up to nine days, we should be sanitising our hands at every opportunity!

Some of the germs spread by touch include:

  • COVID-19
  • Common cold
  • Flu
  • Salmonella

It's no surprise, then, that the NHS claims that frequent hand washing is a key way to defeat COVID-19. So, how do you do it?

How to wash your hands 

It should take around 30 seconds to wash your hands properly, i.e., how long it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Here are the steps: 

  • Dampen hands with water.
  • Apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together, palm to palm, in opposite directions.
  • Rub the back of each hand with the palm of the other, going again in both directions and interlacing the fingers.
  • Rub the fingers together and give them a good scrub.
  • Rub down the thumb on each hand.
  • Clean the wrists, just above hand level.
  • Rinse the soap off with water.
  • Use your elbow to turn the tap off.
  • Dry with a towel.

If you don't have soap and water, use this process to apply sanitiser. Here's a graphic to make it clearer:

                    Credit: NHS National Patient Safety Agency

When to wash your hands

You should wash your hands as often as possible, but what does that mean in real terms? Here are the key timeswhen you should give your hands a clean.

  • After using the bathroom
  • Before preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After touching bodily fluid
  • After handling a nappy or a potty
  • Once you've sneezed, coughed, or blown your nose – and disposed of the tissue!

You should also practise good hand hygiene if you visit the hospital or a doctor's surgery. Wash your hands with sanitiser before entering the building and once you leave. This helps to stop germs from entering – or leaving – these places. Remember – just because your hands look clean doesn't mean they're not contaminated. 

What to do if you can't wash your hands

Don't worry if you can't wash your hands with soap and water. You should use hand sanitiser instead. If you don't have sanitiser, you should:

  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid picking up food with your hands
  • Touch as few surfaces as possible 
  • Minimise social contact

Although it's always best to carry hand sanitiser in your bag at all times, these simple steps can keep you safe in a pinch. 


Frequent hand washing and hand sanitising can protect you and your family from viruses ranging from the common cold to COVID-19. With a bottle of Your Sanitiser on hand, you can feel safe during this global pandemic and beyond. Find out more about Your Sanitiser HERE.