washing hands with a bar of soap

HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS PROPERLY: TUTORIAL AND TIPS

When and how often should you actually wash your hands? Read on to find out more about our step-by-step instructions on how to wash hands properly and learn why it is so important to wash your hands thoroughly and correctly.

STEP-BY-STEP: HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS TO HELP GUARD YOURSELF AGAINST INFECTIONS

Washing hands is the easiest thing in the world, right? That’s a common misconception – you only remove germs if you wash your hands thoroughly.
washing your hands under a tap

Washing your hands properly: 7 steps

1. Turn on the water

Hold your hands under running water and wet them properly. The ideal temperature should be warm to help kill bacteria, but not too hot. If the water is too hot, it’s more likely to damage the delicate skin and dry it out.

rubbing in the soap while washing your hands

Washing your hands properly: 7 steps

2. Lather the soap

Lather some bar soap or liquid soap between the wet palms of your hands to create a foam. If you’re using liquid soap: One pump is enough. Using too much soap does not harm your skin, but it doesn’t make your hands cleaner, either.

hands being washed in a white basin

Washing your hands properly: 7 steps

3. Rub Your Hands Together

Rub your hands together, in circular movements and with light pressure: between the fingers, on the fingertips, on the nails and the palms. Take at least 20 to 30 seconds to massage the soap into your hands to remove germs and bacteria.

hands rubbing soap in between there fingers under a tap

Washing your hands properly: 7 steps

4. Don't forget the skin between your fingers

Take special care to wash the area between your fingers. To do this, hook both hands together and move the fingers back and forth in the spaces between the other hand. Don’t forget your thumbs!

rinsing the soap off their hands under a tap

Washing your hands properly: 7 steps

5. Rinse off thoroughly

Rinse the foam off completely. By the way: It's a myth that washing your hands without soap is useless. But: washing without soap is less effective. If you only have the option to wash without soap, hold your hands under warm running water for at least 30 seconds.

patting the hands dry with a white towel after washing their hands

Washing your hands properly: 7 steps

6. Dry hands carefully

Afterwards, dry your hands and the spaces between your fingers with a soft towel. Do not rub, but pat your hands dry to not irritate the delicate skin. Remember to change the towel regularly (e.g. at least once a week in a one-person household).

nivea intensive care hand cream bottle

Washing your hands properly: 7 steps

7. Apply hand cream

Ideally, you should use hand cream after each washing, because important skin oils is removed whenever you wash your hands. Moisturising hand creams help to support the skin's own cell regeneration process and lock in moisture.

HOW TO PROPERLY WASH AND CARE FOR YOUR HANDS: TIPS ON SOAP AND CREAMS

To prevent the skin from drying out, it is essential to choose the right soap for your skin to ensure you're giving them the best care that cleans thoroughly but doesn't leave skin feeling sore. You should always follow-up washing your hands with some after care too, such as a hand cream to lock in moisture.

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT SOAP AND HAND CREAM

When buying soaps, make sure that the formula is as mild as possible. These products do not attack the protective acid mantle of the skin as much. Better still, choose a soap that contains natural oils to prevent your hands from drying out. If you have particularly sensitive skin, you should look for the "pH-neutral" label.

Soap bars or liquid soaps?

For your skin, it doesn't matter whether you use a liquid soap or a bar of soap. But, in public facilities, where many people wash their hands, it is recommended that you use liquid soaps – bacteria tends to accumulate on soap bars which can then be transferred to your hands when you pick it up to wash your hands.

Which hand cream should you be using?

Depending on how often you wash your hands – e.g. hairdressers and medical workers often wash hands more often than someone who works in an office environment – and how dry they are, there is a variety of hand cream options:

  • An intensive and rich hand cream for chapped hands has a moisturising effect and accelerates the healing process
  • A hand cream for normal skin is ideal for maintaining the neat condition of your hands and nails
  • People who work at the computer or handle important documents should go for a hand cream that is quickly absorbed – it won’t leave greasy fingerprints!
  • An anti-age hand cream enriched with Q10 can help prevent skin ageing on the hands - hands are often the first place to show skin ageing as they are exposed to the sun and are often neglected when it comes to sun protection

someone rubbing repair hand cream into their hands

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO APPLY CREAM AFTER WASHING YOUR HANDS?

Every time you wash your hands, you remove not only dirt but also protective skin oils. It is therefore important to use caring soaps and apply a hand cream after each wash. This way you support the skin's cell regeneration process and keep your hands from feeling sore and dry. If your hands don't receive the nourishing care of a hand cream after you've washed them, they can become cracked which can be very painful.


WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO WASH YOUR HANDS PROPERLY

Everyone knows: washing your hands is a must. But why? And how often should you wash your hands?

PROPER HAND HYGIENE PROTECTS US

Hands go through a lot each and every day as they're constantly being used to pick things up, type on a keyboard, hold onto a handrail, blow your nose and many more. We're also in constant contact with other people. By touching surfaces throughout the day, bacteria and germs stick to your hands.

By washing your hands regularly and properly, and for at least 20-30 seconds each time, you get rid of potential germs. Almost 80 percent of all illnesses are transmitted via the hands –especially gastrointestinal infections, pinkeye and the flu.

Bacteria and dirt can also get from your hands and then on to your face where it can cause pimples if you're not washing your hands regularly and thoroughly.

However: Washing your hands too often strains the skin and dries it out. That is why you should apply cream to your hands after every hand washing.

You should wash your hands when you...

  • ... have been to the bathroom
  • ... have sneezed or wiped your nose
  • ... have had contact with sick people
  • ... have pet animals
  • ... have touched animal food
  • ... have taken out the garbage
  • ... have put on make-up
  • ... are going to be coming into contact with food
  • ... have cooked, especially if you touched raw meat or raw fish
  • ... have worked in the garden
  • ... are coming home

young boy with hand cream on his hands

DOUBLE THE FUN: WASHING HANDS TOGETHER

Get your children into the habit of washing their hands regularly and properly as early as possible, to make sure it's something they do out of habit as they get older. Washing your hands together is much more fun for your kids and it also means you can ensure they're doing it regularly and properly.

nivea soft hand soap for hand washing

SHOULD YOU DISINFECT YOUR HANDS WHEN YOU HAVE A COLD?

Whether it’s a cold or the flu: When you are ill, you transmit the germs through our hands. But should you disinfect your hands when you are sick? No! Rely on thoroughly washing your hands and refrain from shaking hands with other people and that should do the trick.

WHEN SHOULD YOU DISINFECT YOUR HANDS?

Anyone who washes their hands regularly and thoroughly in everyday life is already doing enough for their hand hygiene. The number of germs is considerably reduced – and with it the risk of infections.

So when and why disinfect the hands at all?

In medical institutions like hospitals, disinfecting the hands is essential to prevent the spreading of germs. That applies in particular to the nursing and medical staff.

But even as a visitor you protect patients that way – they usually have a weakened immune system and are therefore susceptible to infectious diseases.

If you are caring for a relative at home, please discuss with your general practitioner whether disinfecting your hands is advisable.


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