How to effectively wash your hands to protect against Coronavirus.

Pavithra Krishna Prasad
5 min readMar 5, 2020


Proper care and hygiene is the best way to defend against getting the flu, a cold or Coronavirus. One of the essential practices of self-care and health is to wash your hands.

Image Courtesy MotherNatureNetwork

The spread of the deadly Coronavirus — which has quickly become an epidemic and forced the cancelation of major trade shows — — has kept people on toes and worrying about figuring out a way to protect ourselves from getting it, including buying up as many face masks as possible. Suddenly and most weirdly, the hand sanitizers are out of stock everywhere, whereas these were completely ignored during regular days. There’s no vaccine yet, so the best line of defense is to follow standard hygiene procedures — the most important of which is washing and sanitizing your hands.

I never thought I’d be explaining the seriousness and importance of hand hygiene through these posts. This is something we’re all taught to do as kids and ought to do it by default. But, the truth is we don’t wash our hands often enough or well enough, and we ignore these basic hygiene practices. Most disgusting is that some of us don’t do it at all after using the bathroom.

You should wash your hands after using the restroom, before eating, before and after handling food, after coughing and sneezing and after handling trash. Hand Sanitizers can not protect you from the virus, but it is an initial step to prevention. Here’s a full list of situations that require hand washing and use of hand sanitizer.

Use of complete handwashing

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the bathroom.
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Use of Hand Sanitizers

  • After scratching hair, nose, armpits.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • After touching an item of dirty furniture or any unclean area.
  • After shaking hands/ greeting, someone.
  • After thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water, Sanitizer with 60% content of alcohol-based Sanitizer.
  • Before and After going to the Hospital.

Follow the five essential steps of handwashing

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. (Remember! more the lather, cleaner your hands will be)
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. For how long? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Studies suggest or recommend to use your towels/paper towels as even the air dryer can be unclean and contaminated.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%-95% alcohol, recommended by the CDC. You can tell if the Sanitizer contains at least 60%-95% alcohol by looking at the product label. When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the name to learn the correct amount) and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry. Do not use water while using Sanitizer.

Often used on the go, hand sanitizers contain ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or both to kill bacteria and viruses on your hands. Alcohols have long been known to kill germs by denaturing the protective outer proteins of microbes and dissolving their membranes. The WHO recommends using hand sanitizer only as an alternative when you don’t have access to soap and water. As the CDC and WHO, the National Institutes of Health also recommends washing your hands whenever possible. Part of the reason that hand sanitizer isn’t as effective as washing hands. People often wipe their hands before the hand sanitizer dries completely. Also, if your hands are dirty or greasy, hand sanitizers may not work because they can’t penetrate dirt and grease like soap can.

Meanwhile, Google searches for “homemade hand sanitizer gel,” which is on-trend, no-doubt because stores have been selling out. But can DIY protection work against the Coronavirus? If you’re confident enough to make your Sanitizer, be sure alcohol makes up more than 60-percent of the volume of ingredients you’re using. (The WHO also has a hand sanitizer recipe online — involving a lot of equipments and step-intensive.) Do click the link to read about the disadvantages of Hand Sanitizers.

If you find that your area got hit by a hand sanitizer shortage, though, rest assured that washing your hands with soap and water is always a better option.



Pavithra Krishna Prasad

Food Safety Auditor & Trainer | Food Safety Genie | Video/Audio Podcaster | Check out to know more.