Hand hygiene

Frequently asked questions

What is hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to stop infection spreading and means cleaning your hands using either soap and water or alcohol based hand rub.

What should I use to clean my hands?

If your hands are visibly dirty or you or someone you are caring for have sickness and diarrhoea or other gastro-intestinal infection, for example norovirus, then use soap and water.

At all other times use alcohol based hand rub. 

Hand hygiene technique

Use the hand hygiene technique shown in the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (NIPCM):

Further information on hand hygiene can be found in the NIPCM.

Global hand hygiene day 2019

On 5 May each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign aims to progress the goal of maintaining a global profile on the importance of hand hygiene in healthcare. It also aims to bring people together in support of hand hygiene improvement globally.

For 5 May 2019 the theme is 'Clean care for all – it’s in your hands' focussing on hand hygiene being practiced not only in hospitals but in all care settings including care homes and by all staff and visitors.

The campaign encourages infection prevention and control teams in acute facilities to monitor infection prevention and control standards and take part in the WHO global survey on infection prevention and control to provide a global picture of practice. 

The survey consists of the completion of two assessment tools which boards can then use locally to identify hand hygiene issues and assist with developing local improvement plans.

We are coordinating this survey for Scotland and encourage all NHS boards to take part by registering on the WHO Website.  The closing date for completion of the survey is 16 July 2019.

The campaign also highlights that the 5 moments for hand hygiene should be used in all car settings including:

  • GP surgeries
  • primary care
  • dentistry
  • care homes

Further information on WHO hand hygiene day including registering, completion of the survey and promotional materials can be found on the WHO website.