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Reduce the spread of infections

Did you know that after child immunisation, hand washing is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of infections, including diarrhoea bugs, colds, the flu virus and so called 'superbugs' such as MRSA and Clostridium Difficile.

Hand washing is important, not only in the hospital environment but in everyday life. Children should be made aware of the importance and benefits of washing hands properly in order to ensure that it becomes a life-long habit. It is never too early to teach and encourage them to wash their hands properly.

Hand washing reduces the spread of infection, maintains hygiene and prevents contamination of food and surfaces. Effective hand washing is one of the cheapest, simplest and most effective ways of preventing the spread of infections.

Washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water can help protect you, your family, children and others.

When should you wash your hands?


  • Putting in contact lenses
  • Preparing food
  • Handling a baby
  • Eating
  • Contact with patients in a healthcare setting or anyone with an open wound


  • Handling raw foods


  • Going to the toilet
  • Cleaning activities such as cleaning the bathroom
  • Handling waste or touching dustbins
  • Changing nappies or incontinence pads
  • Handling or stroking pets or farm animals
  • Cleaning out cat litter trays
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Contact with a patient in a healthcare setting or anyone with an open wound

Washing your hands by giving them a quick rinse and not using soap does not remove all the germs on your hands. It takes at least fifteen seconds to wash your hands properly, and you should encourage children to wash their hands by showing them how to do it, and by setting them a good example.

Wet - your hands before applying soap as this prevents irritation

Soap - apply to wet hands

Wash - rub hands together vigorously, making sure both sides of the hands are washed thoroughly, around the thumbs, between each finger, around and under the nails

Rise - with clean running water

Dry - them thoroughly as germs spread more easily if hands are wet

Alcohol hand gel is not a replacement for hand washing with liquid soap and water, use the same application technique as in hand washing but without wetting your hands first.

Did you know?
  • Germs can stay alive on hands for up to three hours
  • We have between 2 and 10 million bacteria between fingertip and elbow

Clostridium Difficile
Healthcare Associated Infections