Over the course of a day, your hands come into contact with many objects or surfaces that may have been contaminated by infectious agents such as viruses or bacteria (e.g. door handles, cell phones, counters, utensils). When you bring your contaminated hands to your eyes, nose or mouth, you run the risk of transferring these pathogens and developing an infection such as gastroenteritis, influenza or COVID-19.

Hand hygiene is an excellent way to avoid contaminating yourself, others and other objects or surfaces.

It's important to keep your hands clean, especially:

  • When your hands are visibly dirty or after you have touched something dirty
  • Before, during and after preparing food or meals
  • Before eating
  • Before and after personal care, such as putting on or removing contact lenses, taking medication or treating a wound
  • Before and after caring for a child or relative (e.g., helping them eat, blow their nose, brush their teeth, take their medication, etc.)
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • After using the toilet
  • After providing hygiene care to a child or relative (e.g. diaper change, cleaning up vomit or stool)
  • After handling garbage
  • After touching an animal, its excrement, food, treats or toys
  • Before and after going to a public place (e.g. grocery store, pharmacy, bus or daycare)
  • When you think your hands are contaminated

General tips

  • Practice hand hygiene often, with hydroalcoholic solution or soap and water
  • Teach your children and loved ones to perform hand hygiene properly. Encourage them to do it often
  • Make sure there's soap or a hydroalcoholic solution in your environment: on the toilet, in your personal belongings and in places where you eat

Hand hygiene techniques

Hand hygiene can be performed with soap and water, or with a hydroalcoholic solution. Soap and water are necessary when your hands are visibly dirty.

Hand hygiene with soap and water

Use ordinary soap. It doesn't have to be antibacterial.

1. Wet your hands with warm water.

2. Apply soap.

3. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.

4. Rub all the surfaces of your hands and wrists, including your fingernails, thumbs and between your fingers

5. Rinse your hands with running tap water.

6. Carefully dry your hands.

7. If possible, turn the tap off with paper or a towel.

Washing with an hydroalcoholic solution

An hydroalcoholic solution, such as Purell® or Bacti Control®, is a product that kills germs. Such products come in the form of gels, foams or liquids. Rubbing our hands with the product "kills" the germs on them. If hands are visibly dirty, the hydroalcoholic solution will not be effective. In that case, use soap and water.

These solutions are alcohol-based. For them to be effective, their alcohol concentration must be at least 60%.

Warning for children

Keep hydroalcoholic solution out of reach of small children. They must be used under adult supervision.

How to use an hydroalcoholic solution

1. Put a sufficient quantity of hydroalcoholic solution in the palm of your hand. Coat all the surfaces of your hands and wrists.

2. Rub the tips of your fingers

3. Rub the inside of your hands and your thumbs

4. Rub between your fingers

5. Rub the back of your hands

Continue rubbing until your hands have dried, without wiping.

Last update: April 22, 2024


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