Are we washing our hands properly? The simple tip that can save lives
Giulia Carbonaro

In the face of a global pandemic, our best response is a very simple one: wash your hands well.

Global health experts have said that hand hygiene is one of the most important and effective way to contain the spread of COVID-19, as the virus can be transmitted when droplets enter our bodies via mouth, eyes, and nose, which often happens through our hands. 

As people go about washing their hands more mindfully now that they used to a month ago, it turns out that hand-washing, to be effective, needs to be quite a meticulous process. As in the video above, imagine you are washing not with clear soap but with a colorful material like paint or a charcoal face-mask - it will help you make sure you get full coverage.

For how long should I wash my hands?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, washing your hands should take you as long as singing Happy Birthday twice - just over 20 seconds. 

What should I use?

WHO officials have stressed the importance of using soap - it doesn't matter whether this is antibacterial or not. Regular, plain soap is as good as any other kind of soap, according to experts. The temperature of the water also doesn't make a difference, but experts have warned about the risks of skin irritation when washing your hands with hot water.

The right gestures: step-by-step

1. Wet your hands.

2. Apply a sufficient amount of soap.

3. Rub your hands palm to palm.

4. Rub the palm of your hand over the back of your other hand, interlacing your fingers.

5. Rub your hands palm to palm, with fingers interlaced.

6. Rub your hands against each other, interlocking your fingers, so as to wash the back of your fingers and your nails.

7. Rub your thumbs against the opposite palm.

8. Rinse your hands with water.

9. Dry your hands thoroughly with a towel. 

10. Turn off the tap with a tissue, to avoid recontamination.

When should I wash my hands?

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should particularly wash your hands: 

* after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

* after visiting a public space or traveling on public transport

* after touching surfaces outside of your house, including money and your phone (if you're not properly cleaning it every time you use it outside)

* when in contact with a sick person

* before and after eating.

Sign up here to get the COVID-19 Europe bulletin sent directly to your inbox