Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is the single most important procedure for preventing the transmission of infections. Incorporating hand hygiene education in daily child care activities will encourage children to learn and observe proper hand hygiene techniques.

Hand hygiene education tools

"Mom and dad, are my hands clean?" brochure
It's in your hands brochure
Staying Healthy - reducing your risk

What is hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene is the action of cleaning hands. It relates to the removal or killing microorganisms from the hands while maintaining good skin integrity.

There are two methods of hand hygiene:

1. Traditional Hand washing

Hands are washed with soap and running water when hands are visibly soiled. Liquid soap is preferred and it does not need to be anti-bacterial. Bar soap should not be used in child care settings. If hands are visibly soiled and running water is not available, then a moistened toilette or wipe should be used followed by Alcohol-Based Hand Rub

6 steps hand washing diagram
ABCs of washing your hands 
How to wash your hands poster (Government of Ontario)
It’s in your hands brochure 
"Hand washing is as easy as ABC" poster 
"Thank you for washing your hands" poster (for kids)

2. Alcohol-based Hand Rub (ABHR)

ABHR is the preferred hand hygiene choice when hands are not visibly soiled. The product needs to have a D.I.N (Drug Identification Number) or N.P.N. (Natural Product Number) and have an alcohol content of at least 60%. 

How to use hand rub (Government of Ontario) 
Hand washing and hand sanitizing steps
"Please sanitize your hands" (handout)

Glove Use

Gloves are an example of personal protective equipment and are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene. They should be used for direct contact with any body fluid, for handling items soiled with body fluids or when the wearer has open cuts or lesions on the hands. Hand hygiene must be performed before and after glove use. Gloves are task-specific and should never be re-used. 

Donning your personal protective equipment (PPE) poster
Removing personal protective equipment (PPE) poster

Skin Integrity

It is important that skin on the hands remain in tact to reduce the spread of organisms. When hand washing, use warm running water and avoid hot water which may increase the risk of dermatitis. Lather for 15-20seconds and to rinse hands thoroughly, patting them dry instead of rubbing them. When using ABHR, rub hands for 15-20 seconds, until product is dry. With both hand hygiene methods, moisturize frequently to help improve skin integrity. 


It is important to always keep skin moisturized because damaged skin allows the increased growth of micro-organisms. Dry and cracking skin provides micro-organisms with a place to hide and multiply. Neither hand washing or skin antiseptics can reach them.

Lotions moisturize the skin and prevent drying and cracking. The type of lotion doesn't matter, but the lotion must be dispensed from a clean closed container that isn't refilled.

Disposable Wipes

Disposable wipes are a single use wet cloth or tissue intended to remove dirt or other materials from the skin. They are often used for diaper changing because of their convenience (if hands are visibly soiled and running water isn't available, use disposable wipes to remove the visible soil, followed by an alcohol based hand rub).

Taking care of your hands fact sheet