Whether you’re responding to an emergency or practicing smart hand hygiene in your personal life, washing your hands is crucial to keeping yourself and others healthy.
Many diseases and illnesses are passed from person to person by touching contaminated objects. Because people frequently touch their eyes, nose and mouth without even realizing it, these disease-causing germs are able to get direct access into the body.
Let’s look at some handwashing best practices and review how to properly remove your contaminated gloves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CD) breaks down the science behind the “how” and “why” of proper handwashing. Follow these steps:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. Because hands could become re-contaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used. The temperature of the water does not appear to affect microbe removal.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Evidence suggests that washing hands for about 15-30 seconds removes more germs from hands than washing for shorter periods.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Soap and friction help lift dirt, grease, and microbes—including disease-causing germs—from skin so they can then be rinsed off of hands. Rinsing the soap away also minimizes skin irritation.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands; therefore, hands should be dried after washing.
ASHI and MEDIC First Aid also recommend that you turn off the faucet using a paper towel after rinsing your hands.
If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Then, wash your hands as soon as possible.
Step-by-Step Glove Removal
Another component of good hand hygiene is the careful removal of gloves after providing care when responding to an emergency. Or if you wear gloves for other work or personal scenarios.
To safely remove your gloves:
- Grasp first glove. Avoiding bare skin, pinch the glove at either palm with the gloved fingers of the opposite hand.
- Remove first glove inside out. Gently pull the glove away from the palm and towards the fingers, turning the glove inside out without snapping. With your gloved hand, gather the glove you just removed and hold it in your palm.
- Slide finger under second glove. Carefully slide your bare index finger inside the wrist band of the gloved hand.
- Remove second glove inside out. Gently pull outwards and down, inverting the glove and trapping the first glove inside. Throw away gloves in an appropriate container.
- Use soap and water (or alcohol-based hand sanitizer) to clean your hands or any exposed skin.
Be sure to always use latex-free gloves to eliminate allergic reactions.