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Guide: How to wash your hands properly

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Updated March 6, 2020

Flu and virus season is well underway and the easiest way to protect yourself from being affected by illness is to wash your hands. But how do you do it properly and what soaps should you use? We have the answer!

You can definitely go a long way with normal hand-washing. So even if hand sanitisers are sold out everywhere, all hope is not lost. The fact is that hand sanitiser is only a complimentary part of good hand hygiene. In other words, it's more important that you wash your hands properly than over-using hand sanitisers.

Why is it so important to wash your hands?

It's always vital to wash your hands, regardless of whether bugs are going around or not. By washing your hands you reduce the risk of transferring viruses to others. Bacteria and viruses can be passed on frequently touched surfaces like hand rails, door handles, the surfaces of the tube and all manner of surfaces in public areas. You likely touch more things on your way to work than you realise, and when you then touch your face, wipe your nose or rub your eyes afterwards, you increase the chances of letting that bacteria or virus in to your system.

How often should you wash your hands?

The NHS recommends you wash your hands in the following circumstances:

  • After coming inside after being outdoors or in public spaces
  • After using the loo
  • When you can visibly see dirt or grime on your hands
  • Before meal preparation and before actually eating

How do you wash your hands?

Rinse your hands with a bit of water and then dry them on your pants to dry them quickly? Wrong! Washing your hands properly requires a bit more care and time.

  1. Rise your hands with some water and lather them throughly with soap.
  2. Lather your hands sufficiently, making sure to cover both the tops and palms of your hands and also a bit of your wrists as well.
  3. Rinse away all the soap.
  4. Thoroughly dry your hands, either through the use of your own towel or a piece of paper towel.

A thorough hand-washing takes around 30 seconds from start to finish.

What type of soap is the best?

Bars of soap, foamy soaps, liquid soaps or antibacterial options - there are loads to choose from. Which type is actually the best? The most important thing is that you actually use whatever soap you have properly when washing your hands.

If you use bars of soap, be sure to rinse the bar after use and let it dry completely on occasion, it helps in letting your soap last longer. If more than one person uses the soap though, a pump-dispenser might be a better alternative.

It's completely fine to use normal soap, so you don't need antibacterial soaps. The fact is that research has shown that using antibacterial soaps can increase risk factors for developing allergies and sensitivities in babies and young children under the age of 18.

Urtekram No Perfume Hand Soap 100g

Scentless Hand Soap

If you want to cut down on the packaging and plastics, a bar of soap is the way to go. Rinse the soap bar after use and let it dry on occasion to let it last longer.

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Weleda Calendula Soap

A Scented Soap Bar

A mild hand soap with discreet marigold scent.

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Urtekram Rose Hand Soap Organic 380ml

Foamy soap with a refreshing scent

Great for frequent hand-washing and rehydrates the skin on the hands.

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Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Hand Wash 300ml

Liquid Hand Soap with a Spa-Feeling

Washing your hands doesn't need to be a drag - enhance the ritual with some liquid hand soap fit for a spa.

Lowest price at

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More tips and advice on how to protect yourself from illness

In order to make it easier for you to find great content on the theme of protection from illnesses, we've created a collection page for all of the related stories and content we've made on this topic. The page is updated on an on-going basis and here we'll gather guides and tips we hope will be of use and helpful to you in these flu-ridden times.

Read more guides and tips

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