Washing your hands: 13 steps (with pictures)

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Washing your hands: 13 steps (with pictures)
Washing your hands: 13 steps (with pictures)

Washing your hands properly is very important to protect yourself and others from viruses, bacteria and other dirt that ends up on your hands during the day. If your hands don't look really dirty, you can use hand sanitizer, but in certain situations it is imperative that you wash your hands with soap and water. In any case, it is important that you also know exactly how to wash your hands to get them as clean as possible.


Method 1 of 2: Wash your hands with soap and water

Wash Your Hands Step 1

Step 1. Wash your hands if they are dirty

You can wash your hands if you think they are dirty, but there are certain situations where it is imperative that you wash your hands. Situations in which you should definitely wash your hands are, for example:

  • Before and after caring for a wound.
  • Before and after cooking or eating.
  • Before and after caring for a sick person.
  • After going to the toilet.
  • After you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose.
  • After you pick up a garbage bag or take out the garbage.
  • After you change a diaper.
  • After petting or touching an animal, or after coming into contact with animal products or animal waste.
  • Before and after inserting or removing your contact lenses.
Wash Your Hands Step 4

Step 2. Make sure to wash for at least 20-30 seconds

If you want, you can wash your hands even longer. 20-30 seconds is the rule of thumb, so you wash long enough to get rid of the germs.

Step 3. Wet your hands with warm or cold water

Turn on the tap and wet your hands by holding them under the running water. Make sure your palms and the backs of your hands are completely wet so that the soap can spread more evenly over your hands.

Wet your hands under running water to make sure the water is clean. Stagnant water can contain bacteria or germs

Step 4. Put as much hand soap on your hands as you need to cover them completely

Place a dollar-sized amount of hand soap on the palm of one of your hands. Then rub your hands together so that the soap foams and forms bubbles.

You can use liquid hand soap, a bar of soap or powder soap. The soap does not have to be antibacterial

Step 5. Place the fingers of one hand between those of the other to clean the spaces between your fingers

Place one hand on top of your other so that both your palms are facing down. Place the fingers of your top hand between those of your bottom hand. Clean your hands by rubbing your hands back and forth along the length of your fingers. Then repeat with your fingers and your palms turned together.

Wash both hands in this way for three to five seconds

Step 6. Hold your thumb and wrap the fingers of your other hand around it

Stick out your left thumb and wrap your right hand around it. Wash your thumb by moving your right hand up and down so that the soap spreads to the point where your thumb is on your hand. After two to three seconds, switch hands and wash your other thumb in the same way.

To work the soap deeper into your skin, hold your thumb as tightly as possible

Step 7. Rub your fingertips over your palms

Keep your left hand open with the palm facing up. Clamp the fingers of your right hand together and use your fingertips to rub the palm of your left hand. Rub the soap into your palm for three to four seconds, then wash your right hand in the same way.

This way the soap can get under your nails better so that it gets clean there too


In total, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you're having trouble keeping track of time, rubbing your hands together, sing the song "It's a birthday."

Step 8. Rinse your hands thoroughly

When you are finished soaping and rubbing, place your hands under the running water again and let the water run over the hands. Rinse all the soap from your hands until you no longer see any foam at all.

Step 9. Dry your hands with a clean towel

Grab a clean, dry towel and wipe your hands dry with it. If necessary, use paper towels to further reduce the chance of spreading any germs. Try to dry your hands as best you can by rubbing off as much water as possible.

If you must dry your hands with an air dryer, move your hands around and rub them together under the warm air until they are completely dry

Wash Your Hands Step 9

Step 10. Use a towel to close the tap

If the water doesn't shut off automatically, turn off the tap by grabbing it with your towel. This way you ensure that your hands do not immediately become infected again. Throw away a paper towel right away and hang a terry cloth towel to let it dry.

  • If you don't have a towel to hand, you can also close the tap with your elbow.
  • Wash terry towels at least once a week to prevent bacteria or viruses from building up in them.

Method 2 of 2: Using hand gel

Wash Your Hands Step 10

Step 1. Decide if you can use hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands

In certain situations, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands with soap and water. You just have to take the time to properly assess the situation. Consider, among other things, the following:

  • Whether or not your hands are visibly dirty. If you can see dirt or grease on your hands, wash them with soap and water.
  • What you have on your hands. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer will not remove all bacteria or viruses from your hands, and it will not remove certain substances, such as pesticides and heavy metals. If you have come into contact with such materials, always opt for soap and water.
  • Whether you have water on hand. If you don't have running water to hand, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand gel, because it's always better than walking around with dirty hands. But if you can get soap and water in any way, always wash your hands.
Wash Your Hands Step 11

Step 2. Put a dollar-sized amount of hand sanitizer on one hand

Choose a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol, as it will kill any harmful bacteria and viruses more effectively. Press the pump and spray an amount of hand gel the size of about a dollar directly on your palm.

You can also use cleaning wipes with alcohol, if you have them

Step 3. Rub your hands together until the cleaning agent has evaporated

Rub your hands together for about 20 seconds, and move the hand cleansing cloth around your hands as if you were washing your hands. Place the fingers of one hand between those of the other to also clean the spaces between your fingers and rub your fingertips against your palms to get under your nails. Keep moving your hands until they feel dry.

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