Washing your hands and fingernails properly is, of course, good hygiene — but it also reduces the spread of infection and germs. That’s why healthcare professionals go through a thorough hand-washing routine before performing surgeries and other medical procedures. A step-by-step hand- and nail-washing process helps you rid your digits of the microbes, dirt and grime that hide in between your fingers and underneath your nails.

Things You'll Need


Wash Hands Well

Wet both hands with warm water. Pump a quarter-sized amount of soap into your hands.

Smooth the soap over the tops and bottoms of your hands, from palm to palm and in between your fingers. Rub both hands together vigorously until the soap forms a thin layer of lather that covers your hands. When you rub your hands together, the lather of the soap helps to release dirt and tiny microbes trapped in the natural oils of your skin.

Rub your hands together continuously for 20 seconds or more. Then rinse them under a steady stream of warm running water.

Dry your hands using a paper or cloth towel. Use the towel to turn off the water faucet; then discard it or set it aside.

Don’t Forget the Fingernails

Dampen your hands and the area under your nails with warm water.

Wet a clean, disinfected or sterilized nailbrush in a stream of warm water. Pump two or three dots of soap on the brush’s bristles.

Brush underneath your nails horizontally, using a back-and-forth motion. After 10 to 20 seconds of brushing, move the brush vertically up and down along the nail bed and near your cuticles. Brush the tops of your nails for an additional 10 to 20 seconds.

Rinse your hands and fingernails thoroughly with warm water; then dry your hands with a towel. Use the towel to turn off the faucet; then discard.

Tips

  • Your hands and fingernails may become dry from daily handwashing and cleaning. Apply cuticle oils to your nails before bedtime and a moisturizing hand cream daily, to rehydrate parched skin.

  • If you do not have access to water and soap, use a hand sanitizer to clean your hands. To clean your hands this way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that you rub an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, with at least 60 percent alcohol content, into your hands for 20 to 25 seconds.

  • Disinfect your nailbrush by dipping it in a solution of 70 to 90 percent isopropyl alcohol for five minutes.