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HealthInfo Canterbury

Hand hygiene

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Hand hygiene refers to cleaning your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand rub (ABHR). Hand hygiene is the single most important way of preventing the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause infection.

Why is hand hygiene so important?

Infectious diseases are a serious problem worldwide. There is increasing evidence that good hand hygiene in the home and community prevents the spread of foodborne infections (food poisoning). Evidence also shows that good hand hygiene is vital in preventing the spread of many other common infections.

When should I clean my hands?

You should always clean your hands:

How to clean your hands correctly

Avoid getting sick

Regular hand hygiene, particularly before and after the activities listed above, is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. It also prevents the spread of germs to others. It's quick, it's simple, and it can keep us all from getting sick. Hand hygiene is a win for everyone, except the germs.

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See also:

Diarrhoea and vomiting


Skin infections

Compiled by the Hand Hygiene Governance Group, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated October 2016.


Page reference: 227175

Review key: HIHYG-227175