› Hand Hygiene

Good Hand Hygiene:
An Easy Thing To Keep Everyone Safer

Do you know the story of Typhoid Mary?

She was a cook who carried the bacteria that caused Typhoid Fever but never came down with the disease herself. She was a carrier. She passed on the disease to several families that she worked for over the years.

Perhaps better hand hygiene would have prevented her from unknowingly spreading such a dangerous illness.

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So, don’t you be a 21st Century Typhoid Mary! Wash your hands!

Hospitals make it very easy these days to keep your hands clean with hand sanitizers in or just outside each patient room. There are also plenty of sinks with antimicrobial soaps.

Carrying small hand sanitizer containers in your nursing bag is a given if you are in home care nursing. Too many homes are so dirty you wouldn't want to use their sink to wash even if you bring your own soap and paper towels.

And For The Alternative View

Not crazy about chemicals? Me neither but I use the hand sanitizer during work only because that is what is required by my employer. I use regular soap and water for hand hygiene when I get home. 

There is a part of me that worries about using the alcohol based / chemical sanitizers. 

I worry it will be like the antibiotics we used to so freely request from our doctors for every little thing. All that accomplished was to create stronger and stronger germs.

That’s why I use only regular, not the antibacterial soap at home. BTW, did you know there is a difference between the antibacterial soap you buy in the grocery store and the antimicrobial soap in hospitals?

It has been proven that it is the friction of washing and the rinsing off that washes away bacteria and viruses just as effectively and chemically killing them.

So, do what you must according to your employer’s standard operating procedures but consider just the old fashioned washing with soap and water for you and your family at home.

Sanitizers Are Everywhere

I really have to laugh when I go into grocery stores that have hand sanitzer wipes by the grocery carts. I watch as people swipe the handle of the cart and go on their merry way, thinking they are now "protected" from everyone else's germs.

Really? What do you think happens the first time they pick up a can of peas or a tomato or a loaf of bread? They just re-contaminated their hands! There are germs on everything!

So it is all a waste of time and only creating a mass of super bugs. At least that is my way of thinking.

My mantra when it comes to general everyday life is that if you want to be germ-free you are on the wrong planet. It is hard enough when working in the medical field not to contaminate and re-contaminate things. In the "real" world it is impossible, so stop trying!

How Do You Perform Good Hand Hygiene?

Watch and see because there is a right way and a wrong way:

OK, a personal bug-a-boo. No one, and I mean no one seems to get the drying part of this skill. Think about how carefully you washed and rinsed so all the bacteria was flushed down you hands off your fingers.

Then everyone takes the paper towels and dries willy-nilly... fingers, hands, then wrist... then back down to fingers.


Guess who just recontaminated their fingers with their dirty wrists where they stopped washing?

Dry your fingers first, your palms and back of hands next and your wrists last. Throw out the paper towels and get clean if you need to revisit your fingers!

Hand Sanitizer

You may use sanitizer as long as your hands are not visibly dirty or for up to 10 times. After that washing with soap and water is required.


  • Some teens are using hand sanitizer to get drunk.
  • Very young children will try to eat sanitizer out of curiosity and become ill.
  • Repeated use can show up in blood tests for alcohol levels

There are other (chemical) non-alcoholic sanitizers available

A Movie of Typhoid Mary By Nova

Related Pages

Basic Nursing Skills

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