The NHS approved handwashing technique explained: how to stop the spread of coronavirus by washing your hands

Friday, 13th March 2020, 10:30 am
Updated Friday, 13th March 2020, 10:34 am
What you need to know about the correct handwashing technique from the NHS (Photo: Shutterstock)

With hand washing one of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19, the government and the NHS have been urging people to adopt a more thorough approach to washing their hands.

This is what you need to know about the NHS approved technique on how to wash your hands, how to effectively dry them, and how to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

How to wash your hands properly

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We all have a role to play in spotting this disease and that’s what this expanded campaign is all about - making sure the public knows exactly what they should be doing to keep themselves and others safe.

“Washing hands regularly is the single most important thing that an individual can do.”

The poster from the government explains that you should use soap and water or hand sanitiser when you:

Get home or into workBlow your nose, sneeze or coughEat or handle food

The NHS says that you should wash your hands with soap and water often, for a period of at least 20 seconds.

Start by applying enough soap to cover your hands, rub them together and remember to scrub the backs of your hands and in between your fingers on either hand.

The NHS says that for non-automated taps, you should use a disposable towel to turn off the tap to stop it running, instead of using your freshly cleaned hands.

Hand washing songs

To ensure you wash your hands for a full 20 seconds, the NHS advises singing Happy Birthday twice in your head (or out loud if you prefer), which takes roughly 20 seconds.

Or if you’re not keen on Happy Birthday, journalist Jen Monnier compiled a thread on Twitter of other songs with choruses that last 20 seconds. These include:

Jolene by Dolly PartonAfrica by TotoTruth Hurts by LizzoLandslide by Fleetwood MacRaspberry Beret by Prince

For keeping kids entertained whilst washing their hands, there are a variety of songs you can choose to sing along with them, such as:

Mary had a little lambIf you’re happy and you know itRow, row, row your boatThe alphabet song

These are the symptoms of coronavirus (Photo WHO)

Paper towels versus hand dryers

When it comes to using a hand dryer or paper towels, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that hand dryers are not effective at killing the new coronavirus.

“Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV,” WHO states in their Myth Busters advice for the public report.

The NHS advises drying your hands thoroughly using paper towels after washing your hands.

Does hand sanitiser do anything?

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that, in the case that soap and water are not readily available, you can use hand sanitiser instead.

Make sure the hand sanitiser is at least 60 percent alcohol.