Proper Handwashing Techniques

Hand washing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of illness, infection and communicable diseases. It is the physical removal of normal surface microorganisms, dirt and blood.  Hand asepsis is the destruction of pathogenic microorganisms.


Routine Handwashing Protocol

Purpose: To remove soil and transient microorganisms before and after treating a patient. Hand should be wash before and after each gloving.


Method: Non antimicrobial liquid soap. 

When washing hands with soap and water:

-Wet your hands with clean, warm, running water and apply soap.

-Rub hands together to make lather and scrub all surfaces thoroughly.

-Clean dirt from under fingernails.

-Continue rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds.

-Need a timer? Imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice through to a friend.

-Shake off excess water.

-Thoroughly dry your hands using a paper towel, if possible. 

-Pat rather than rub to alleviate chapping and cracking.

– If  towels are not available, air drying is acceptable.

-If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

-Rinse hands well under running water.

-Dry hands thoroughly with paper towel or under dryer for at least 35 seconds.


If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast-acting.


Routine Hand Asepsis

 Purpose: To remove soil and transient microorganisms when hand are not visibly soiled before and after treating patient (before and after gloving).

Method:  alcohol-based hand sanitizer:

   –  Apply product to the palm of one hand.

  –   Rub hands together.

   –  Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry and product has evaporated.

For more information on handwashing call 1-800-CDC-INFO 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; email; or visit