How to wash your hands effectively
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How to wash your hands effectively

Mark Dexter Hillier Lecturer, School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences, University of Salford, Salford, England

Rationale and key points

This article describes when and how to wash your hands effectively. Healthcare-associated infections are a risk to patients and service users, and nurses have a duty of care to protect these individuals from preventable infections. Nurses should practise good infection prevention, the basis of which is effective hand hygiene.

The nurse should understand the importance of handwashing for infection prevention.

The nurse should know when to wash their hands and the steps involved in effective handwashing using soap and water or hand cleansing using alcohol hand gel.

Reflective activity

Clinical skills articles can help update your practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

The circumstances in which is it not appropriate to use alcohol hand gel and why.

The reasons why adherence to recommended hand hygiene practice might be low in modern healthcare settings.

The ‘five moments for hand hygiene’ described by the World Health Organization and the risks of hand contamination.

Subscribers can upload their reflective accounts at:

Nursing Standard. 30, 3, 34-36. doi: 10.7748/ns.30.3.34.e9691


Peer review

All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software.

Received: 16 October 2015

Accepted: 21 November 2015