Tips for proper hand washing

When should you wash your hands?

Multiple times each day, especially:

After using the toilet

Before eating and cooking

After sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing

Each time when you come home

After contact with sick people

After using public transport

After touching rubbish

After touching animals

Wash your hands – do it right!

30 seconds, water, suitable soap and a single-use clean towel – that’s all you need to protect yourself from germs in your daily life. Prof. Dr. med. Klaus-Dieter Zastrow, a specialist in hygiene and environmental medicine and Head of the REGIOMED-KLINIKEN hygiene institute in Coburg, explained: “The right method is decisive. Only the combination of lathering, massaging, rinsing and drying with a single-use towel achieve the desired hygienic effect. To this end, the hands should be lathered up for at least 20 seconds. It is important that the entire hand be treated including the spaces between your fingers, your thumbs and your wrists. It sometimes helps to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice in your head.” If you want to help save the environment, turn off the water while doing so. Then rinse off the suds under running water and dry your hands carefully using a cotton or paper hand towel. The temperature of the water has no effect on the cleaning result.

Soap: Liquid or bar?

If you just hold your hands under hot water, you may as well not wash them at all. The only way to get hands truly clean is to use soap – the more thoroughly the better. After all, water does not remove germs – only soap does. Liquid soaps are more hygienic than bars of soap, especially in public washrooms. Bars of soap stay wet, and a thin, moist film ideal as a biotope for viruses and bacteria often forms on their surface. Foam soap is particularly sparing in its use and environmentally friendly, as you save both soap and water.

Drying: Towel or dryer?

After rinsing, simply shake your hands a little or wipe them on your trousers? Not a good idea! Many people are not aware that hands not only need to be washed and rinsed properly, but also dried correctly – ideally with a single-use towel. Studies have shown that wet hands transfer up to 1,000 times more bacteria than completely dry hands. As such, one thing is clear: Thorough drying after washing is an essential part of correct hand hygiene. When visiting public toilets, you often have the choice: paper towel, hand towel or dryer? Experts recommend the use of single-use towels, but that doesn’t necessarily mean disposable products! Towel dispensers with retractive systems that retract the cotton hand towel again are also included. In addition, these towels are also more absorbent than paper towels and do no distribute germs around the washroom like driers do.

Skin protection

Proper handwashing protects against contagious diseases. However, inadequate or very frequent handwashing, especially at high temperatures or with aggressive cleaning agents, can damage your skin. The skin’s natural acidic, protective barrier is attacked, leaving the skin prone to dryness and cracks. Germs can then exploit these small wounds to enter the body. Thorough skincare includes the application of special skincare products before work, the use of suitable soap during and the massaging in of lotions to promote skin regeneration afterwards.

Fewer than 33% of men wash their hands after going to the toilet. Women are much more hygiene-savvy: 64% wash their hands regularly in the sink.

„Don’t forget to wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating.“

Most people know this basic hygiene rule. Nevertheless, studies confirm that washing your hands after using the toilet is by no means a given. Scientists at the “London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine” observed the handwashing behaviour of around 200,000 visitors to washrooms at motorway service stations. The result: Fewer than 33% of men washed their hands with soap and water after using the facilities. The figure for women was at least better at 64%. But hand hygiene isn’t just important after using the toilet. You should also ensure your hands are clean before and after meals, after blowing your nose and after travelling on public transport.

German companies incur costs of around
€ 130 billion a year
due to employee sickness.That works out at about € 3,600 per person.

€ 3.600per

Hygiene at every turn

Your throat is sore, your nose is running and on top of all that you've started coughing. The number of people falling ill rises at the colder time of the year. Diseases like colds, the flu and stomach bugs are passed from hand to hand in the truest sense of the word. According to British researchers, people who use public transport are six times more likely to be infected than those who go by bike, car or foot. However, germs also spread quickly in closed, heated office spaces. You also come into contact with a large number of germs outside of washrooms, for example when shaking hands, opening doors, using pens and when using communal fridges. By the way: The highest density of bacteria by a long way can be found on computer keyboards. The simplest and at the same time most underestimated means of reducing sickness and protecting the health of colleagues and staff is regular, thorough handwashing.

Your whole hand: Lather up both the palms and backs of your hands, your fingertips, the spaces between your fingers and your thumbs.


Not too short: Thorough handwashing should take at least 20 seconds. Only then does cleaning become effective.


Proper drying: Dry your hands thoroughly with a single-use cotton hand towel. This helps to remove the stubborn germs that remain on your skin after washing.