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SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands! A Closer Look at Hand Hygiene

To prevent the spread of germs and infections, keeping your hands clean and hygienic is the most important thing that you can do. It is particularly crucial to practise stringent hand hygiene in healthcare environments, and it’s for this reason that the World Health Organisation (WHO) holds its ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’ global campaign day each year on 5th May to raise awareness of proper hand hygiene for health workers, which WHO says has saved millions of lives in the last few years.


This theme for the 2015 campaign is ‘Strengthening health care systems and delivery – hand hygiene is your entrance door’, reinforcing that a safe healthcare environment is quite literally at your fingertips. It’s also very timely in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak, as the virus was spread through human-to-human contact with bodily fluids, and proper hand washing was critical for infection control in the areas affected.

Ebola was less of a concern for us in the UK but it is always helpful to be reminded of the necessity of good hand hygiene habits, no matter which environment you work in. As part of the SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands 2015 campaign, WHO dispels information not only about the importance of hand hygiene but also how to properly clean your hands, and with the correct sanitising products.

Should you handrub or handwash?

There are two different ways to clean your hands: handrubbing, using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, or handwashing, with an antibacterial soap and water. Both of these are effective methods of cleaning your hands, but according to WHO guidelines, there are different times when each is more appropriate.

Handwashing should be used when your hands are visibly dirty or soiled, when you have come into contact with any bodily fluids, and after using the toilet. At almost every other time, thorough handrubbing is adequate to sanitise your hands and ensure that you are contributing to a safe and clean environment. It’s also faster and therefore more effective overall for controlling the spread of germs and infections.

If you work in a healthcare environment, why not test your knowledge of WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in health care, and on hand hygiene overall by taking the tricky quiz below? Challenge your co-workers to take the quiz too and find out whether you’re hand hygiene experts, or your knowledge of hand cleaning would get a ‘thumbs down’!

There are many different ways that you can get involved in the SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign on 5th May, whether it’s simply putting up hand hygiene information posters around your workplace, giving your team their own bottles of hand sanitising gel, or even organising a hand sanitising relay! However you participate, be sure to share your efforts with the world by tweeting at @WHO and using the hashtags #safeHANDS and #handhygiene. And to make your hand washing efforts even more pleasant, we have five fantastic gift bags from luxury skin care brand, Pasture Naturals, to give away! Their range of premium, eco-friendly anti-bacterial cleansers, washes and lotions contain very high levels of natural essences and vitamins that nourish and refresh, plus each product is free from parabens, and made right here in the UK.

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To be in with a chance of winning one of these fabulous gift bags filled with products for your washroom of choice, enter via the app below. And don’t forget to tell us about your activities for SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands on 5th May by leaving us a comment!

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32 thoughts on “SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands! A Closer Look at Hand Hygiene

  1. Hayley Boyles

    I have hand wash both upstairs and downstairs and carry a bottle of hand sanitiser in my handbag with me for myself and my children. When using public toilets I will always use my hand sanitizer even after washing my hands. I do believe we should let our children get dirty and role in mud if they choose to lol .Just make sure they wash up after 🙂

  2. Amelia Kennedy

    I keep a sanitiser gel in my handbag for use when out and about and frequently wash my hands indoors with antibacterial handwash as I’m a little paranoid about germs!

  3. Tracy Nixon

    I have soap dispensers in my bathrooms and kitchen and wash my hands thoroughly with soap and water. I carry antibacterial gel in my bag too so when I am out and about I can ensure my hands are kept clean.

  4. Heather Haigh

    Good old soap and water in the bathroom, and handwash in the kitchen, and a good nailbrush for scrubbing.

  5. Michaela Brennan

    I prefer liquid soap over bars. I work in a kitchen so i wash my hands dozens of times a day and like to use soap that is king to my skin!

  6. kim neville

    We have liquid soap dispensers at home and wash hands front and back and rinse thoroughly and encourage the kids to do the same

  7. Jane Willis

    Don’t forget those nails! Dirt and germs can lurk underneath them, make sure you get them thoroughly clean

  8. Katherine De Riera

    Wet hands apply soap working all over the hands and making sure not to miss any bits, then rinse thouroughly, I always help the kids to wash their hands too! I also carry hand sanitiser in my handbag to stay clean when out and about!

  9. katie skeoch

    Our handy antibacterial soap is great for the kids. I keep a lotion in the car too, to keep germs at bay!!

  10. justine meyer

    We have soap dispensers in the bathrooms and we have wipes and sanitizers all around the house for everyones use

  11. Stephanie Whitehouse

    I was taught this at work, and was shocked when a UV light was used to demonstrate which areas we all issed

  12. Kimberley Howes

    Liquid soap as its most important all over between the fingers under the nail then rinse with hot water xx

  13. Diane Carey

    I have liquid soap dispensers in the kitchen and bathroom, and normal soap also in the bathroom. I wash my hands often, as there are so many germs lurking about on gadgets, mobiles etc. I try to be careful touching escalators. I don’t carry hand sanitizer about with me, but going to start doing so. It’s handy to use before going in cafes etc to eat. Some establishments don’t have toilets to wash your hands first

  14. Alexandra McGahey

    I only use antibacterial handwash in a dispenser, always make sure my taps are disinfected, always use hot water to wash hands with and wash thoroughly for at least a minute and much longer if particularly dirty or if I’ve been touching more “at risk” things like poultry etc.

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