How Hand Hygiene Helps in Preventive Care

  • Qayyum Mumtaz Master in healthcare management, Public Health, Riphah International University
  • Nisa Fareed Biomedical Science Graduate from the University of Warwick, UK
  • Humna Maryam Ikram BS, Pharmacology, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK

What is hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene is a process of washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rubs (including gels, foams and liquids) for a minimum period of 15 to 20 seconds while ensuring all fingers and sides are covered.1

What is the significance of preventive care in hand hygiene?

Daily activities are essential for our survival. Thus, hand hygiene plays a vital role in preventive care. Moreover, this care protects us from various microorganisms. If hygiene is not maintained, it can make us ill and sick, thus hindering our daily routine.

Preventive care can help in various ways:

  • Lower the chance of cross-contamination of infection in individual and medical facilities.2

How important is hand hygiene in promoting health?

Hand hygiene is an important aspect in raising the health of the population because if proper hand washing is not followed, it can

How to bring awareness regarding hand hygiene? 

Handwashing understanding is vital as a lack of understanding can result in various physical health and wellness issues. It is commonly recognised that Healthcare workers (HCWs) are more prone to infections found in hospitals that could result in hospital-associated infections.3 The common infections found are methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile.  

What framework should be opted for hand hygiene?

  • Hand washing is an analytical approach to preventive measures in all healthcare surroundings.4
  • The most advanced technology is used to observe hand washing for valid and appropriate scenarios.4
  • In the areas of inadequate and limited resources, the process of direct observation must be ensured for observance.4
  • Education and awareness procedures must be adapted to increase hand hygiene.4 

How does infection spread through contaminated hands?

World Health Organization (WHO) states that disease can be spread if hand hygiene is not properly performed, and that could be due to the following factors:

  • Source of infection5
  • Destination of surface5
  • Level of moisture5
  • Size of microorganisms5
  • Organism type5

Therefore, these factors should be minimised or handled to decrease their spread for successful preventive care.

How effective is hand hygiene in reducing transmission?

Hand hygiene has a wide impact on lowering the transmission of illness and disease. The diseases which can be prevented are:

  • Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs)6
  • Gastrointestinal Infections (GIs)6

These diseases can be limited by:

What are the techniques for hand washing?

The first technique is to properly wash hands with soap and water, and it can be done by following steps:

  • Hands should be wet with water.
  • Apply soap to cover all your hands.
  • Hands should be rubbed together.
  • One hand should be used to rub the other back of the hand and also clean in between all the fingers, and use the same procedure for the other hand.
  • Hands should be rubbed together, and fingers should be cleaned in between.
  • The fingers of each hand should be gripped together, and with the back of the fingers, the palm should be rubbed. Similarly, rub the tips of the fingers and on the back of the finger against the palms. 
  • One thumb should be dubbed by one hand and then by the other hand.
  • Tips of the fingers should be rubbed with the palms of the hands, and similarly, use this technique for the other hand. 
  • Hands should be rinsed with water.
  • Use disposable towels to dry your hands.
  • Tap should be turned off by using a disposable towel. 

The second technique is the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers. This method should be adapted 

  • If soap and water are not freely feasible.
  • 60% alcohol-based hand sanitisers should be used.
  • If you are visiting and leaving the hospital with a patient with MRSA and Clostridium difficile use alcohol-based hand rubs. 
  • Washing hands is not allowed, and it will not provide good protection against microorganisms.

Use enough sanitiser to cover your hands and rub till the hands are dry (approximately 20 seconds). Take care of your children while using alcohol hand sanitisers.

Why is hand hygiene important in daily life?

Hand hygiene should be adapted in daily life to 

  • Protect yourself and your family members at home.
  • Ensuring maximum protection against germs in public places where there is much care needed for all individuals.
  • There should be effective and productive teaching and educational programs for the children so that they know the importance of hand washing. 

What are the barriers to hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene can struggle with barriers, and they must be dealt with care to overcome them.7


These individual barriers could be a result of 

  • People who aren’t healthcare professionals have insufficient knowledge.
  • Inappropriate attitude of healthcare professionals.


These management barriers are due to 

  • False conduct impressions.
  • Planning and training are unacceptable.


Organisational barriers are one of the key elements as they are considered the roots of any institution. So, the disturbance in this barrier is the reason of 

  • Extra workloads
  • Improper designing
  • Shortage of equipment
  • The quality of equipment is not up to standards

What challenges to overcome in hand hygiene?

Challenges are more rewarding, and they are celebrated with happiness and laughter. Hand hygiene challenges are promoted by WHO's “5 Moments of Hand Hygiene” which help in curing or preventing diseases. 

These moments are8

  1. Hands should be cleaned before touching the patient to protect them from various germs and infections.
  2. Hands should be cleaned before performing any germ-free procedure. This should be done so that the patient's germs, as well as the doctor performing the procedure germs, do not enter the body. 
  3. Hands should be cleaned immediately after exposure to the fluids or removing examination or surgical gloves to protect yourself and other healthcare staff. 
  4. Hands should be cleaned immediately after touching the patient or its surroundings to keep yourself protected, as well as staff members.
  5. Hands should be cleaned after touching any object like furniture or when leaving in case you have not touched the patient to keep the staff and patient germ-free. 

How to promote hand hygiene?

Various methods are adapted or captured to promote hand hygiene. These means are very effective, and they are:9

  • Change of System.
  • Support of Administration.
  • Encouragement.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs should be accessible.
  • Healthcare workers should be trained along with quality education.
  • The workplace should be equipped with reminders.

Besides that, public health campaigns and school curricula should include hand hygiene education. 

What is the future of hand hygiene?

Future recommendations are always encouraged, and they must be met to improve the current or ongoing utilities. Barriers should be effectively and positively eradicated to enhance the10

  • Interventions.
  • Policy plans about the guidelines should be implemented.
  • Modern techniques.
  • Educational programs.
  • Advanced training and quality planning.
  • Environmental disinfectants.

Moreover, healthcare technologies in the advancement of hand hygiene can make it easier to remember this as a daily routine. Handwashing and hand sanitisers should have innovations, and ongoing research for their effectiveness and improvement must be met. 


Hand hygiene is essential for maintaining health and preventing the spread of diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. Proper handwashing with soap and water, as well as using alcohol-based sanitisers, is crucial. Healthcare settings must strictly adhere to hand hygiene protocols to prevent infections. It's equally important to practice hand hygiene in daily routines, in public places, and at home. Challenges and misconceptions must be addressed through education and public health initiatives. Technological innovations can further improve hand hygiene practices. Community involvement, healthcare worker engagement, and overall good health are vital in combating infections through hand hygiene.


  1. Toney-Butler, Tammy J., et al. “Hand Hygiene.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 2023. PubMed,
  2. Mathur, Purva. “Hand hygiene: back to the basics of infection control.” The Indian Journal of Medical Research vol. 134,5 (2011): 611-20. doi:10.4103/0971-5916.90985
  3. Bhagawati, Gitali. “Get aware of hand hygiene: Implement it in your attitude.” Journal of Education and Health Promotion vol. 7 21. 9 Feb. 2018, doi:10.4103/jehp.jehp_77_17
  4. Masroor, Nadia, et al. “Approaches to Hand Hygiene Monitoring: From Low to High Technology Approaches.” International Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol. 65, Dec. 2017, pp. 101–04. ScienceDirect,
  5. WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care: First Global Patient Safety Challenge Clean Care Is Safer Care. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 7, Transmission of pathogens by hand. Available from:
  6. Willmott M, Nicholson A, Busse H, et alEffectiveness of hand hygiene interventions in reducing illness absence among children in educational settings: a systematic review and meta-analysisArchives of Disease in Childhood 2016;101:42-50.
  7. Ahmadipour, Maryam et al. “Barriers to hand hygiene compliance in intensive care units during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study.” Frontiers in public health vol. 10 968231. 18 Aug. 2022, doi:10.3389/fpubh.2022.968231
  8. Gould D, Purssell E, Jeanes A, et alThe problem with ‘My Five Moments for Hand Hygiene’BMJ Quality & Safety 2022;31:322-326.
  9. Mathur, Purva. “Hand hygiene: back to the basics of infection control.” The Indian Journal of Medical Research vol. 134,5 (2011): 611-20. doi:10.4103/0971-5916.90985
  10. Staniford, L.J., Schmidtke, K.A. A systematic review of hand-hygiene and environmental disinfection interventions in settings with children. BMC Public Health 20, 195 (2020).
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Qayyum Mumtaz

Master in healthcare management, Public Health, Riphah International University

Qayyum Mumtaz is an experienced healthcare professional with a firm background in medical writing, pharmacy, public health and pharmacovigilance. He has earned his MSc in Healthcare Management specialisation in Public Health (MS-HCM). Prior to that he has completed Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm-D) with a major in Pharmacy. He is honoured for his expertise related to patient safety, healthcare programs and pharmaceuticals in community care. He has long standing experience as a registered pharmacist (RPh) and is ambitious to contribute as a medical article writer. He also served as a pharmacovigilance focal person. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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