Cleaning your hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitiser is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs, but it is helpful knowing the difference between soap and sanitiser.
For example, alcohol-based hand sanitisers don’t kill all types of germs, such as a stomach bug called norovirus; some parasites; and Clostridium difficile, which causes severe diarrhea. Handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs, pesticides and metals on hands.
Knowing when to clean your hands and which method to use will give you the best chance of preventing sickness, reports Caxton Central.
When you should use soap and water
Before, during and after preparing food;
Before eating food;
Before and after caring for someone who is sick;
Before and after treating a cut or wound;
After using the bathroom, changing nappies, or cleaning up a child who has used the bathroom;
After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
After touching an animal, animal food or treats, animal cages, or animal waste;
After touching garbage;
If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
When you should use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
Before and after visiting someone in a hospital or nursing home, unless the person is sick with Clostridium difficile (if so, use soap and water to wash your hands);
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol and wash with soap and water as soon as you can.
Do not use hand sanitiser if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy, for example, after gardening, playing outdoors, or after fishing or camping (unless a handwashing station is not available). Wash your hands with soap and water instead.
How to use soap and water
Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the palms, backs, fingers, between your fingers, and under your nails. Keep scrubbing for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.
How to use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitiser to prevent them from swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and childcare facilities.
Apply enough product on hands to cover all surfaces.
Rub hands together, until hands feel dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
Do not rinse or wipe off the hand sanitiser before it’s dry, it may not work as well against germs.
Watch: Soap, space & sanitiser: 6 ways to protect yourself from Covid-19
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