Purpose and principles of hand washing and disinfection

Washing and disinfecting (decontamination) hands are the most important activities in preventing infections. Hand hygiene treatments significantly reduce the risk of transmission of pathogenic microorganisms, which is of great importance in places such as healthcare facilities, but also food processing plants, kitchens, restaurants etc.

Hand hygiene leads to the removal of physical contamination, organic substances from hands. It reduces the transition flora and solid flora of the skin. The greatest danger is posed by pathogenic microorganisms, which can get on the skin of workers in the catering industry who come into direct contact with food. Therefore, in order to allow for very precise hand hygiene, all hand hygiene procedures must be preceded by the obligatory, earlier removal of jewellery, wedding ring, watch, washing away the polish and cutting off the nails.

Hygienic hand disinfection

This treatment means the reduction of transition flora on the skin of the hands by means of disinfectants. Hygienic hand disinfection is applied before treatment, examination, care after removing protective gloves and after each contact with the patient, contaminated objects and equipment, after contact with infectious material, secretions and excretions.

Hygienic hand disinfection does not need to be always preceded by hygienic hand washing. However, hand disinfection can never be omitted. The first rule is that hygienic skin disinfection should be the last stage of hand hygiene before coming to the patient and the first after he or she leaves. Only the maintenance of this principle guarantees the elimination of the risk of transferring microorganisms on the skin of the hands to and from the patient. The second rule relates to the dosage method. Remember to rub the preparation into your hands for 30 seconds so that the skin of your hands is constantly moist. The quantities on the label are the minimum quantities (3-5 ml). The third rule is to pay special attention to the areas of the hand most often overlooked.

Knowing them allows you to work out your own hand disinfection scheme. Hygienic hand disinfection need not always be preceded by hygienic hand washing. However, hand disinfection can never be omitted.

Hand skin care

Frequent hand washing and disinfection treatments dry the skin. This long-term condition exposes users to allergic reactions and skin inflammation. To reduce the negative effects of the antiseptics and soaps used, skin care and greasing preparations should be used as often as possible (and at least once a day at the end of work).

Soaps used for hand washing

Use mild, high-quality liquid soaps that are gentle on the skin. Cheap soaps contain as a thickener kitchen salt (NaCl), which damages and dries the skin of the hands.


Most often these are preparations produced on the basis of ethyl or propyl alcohol, with the addition of moisturizing and greasing substances.

Soap dispensers and disinfectant preparations

In health care facilities, wall-mounted dispensers with a long dosing arm activated by the forearm are mandatory. Containers with disinfectant and liquid soap can only be refilled after the liquid container and suction and pumping system have been completely emptied, washed and disinfected.

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