How To Wash Your Hands Properly, In One GIF

I never washed correctly until this

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GIF adapted from this video

Until coronavirus, I never paid that much attention to washing my hands. Splash, soap, lather — in and out. I’ve been doing it wrong and so, most probably have you. This is how to do it, as recommended by the WHO.

In the GIF above you can see each of the steps, which should be self-explanatory. This is easier to show and tell, I have taught my 3-year old daughter, for example, but I’ll tell as best I can.

1–2 |Use soap and water if you can get it

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Soap just obliterates coronavirus. It breaks the viruses chemical bonds, ripping it apart. Soap is also less prone to running out than hand sanitizer, so if you can get it, use it. Soap and water is best.

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Hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) also works, but is less reliable. If your hands are greasy or wet it can fail. It’s also getting harder and harder to find. So soap and water if you can.

3 | Palms

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The next step, once you get a lather, is to rub your palms together. This is basically where I would stop before. But don’t stop here.

4 | Back of your hands

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Next clean the back of your hands, with the opposite palm. I find this a bit hard to do with a watch. In my case, I just watch over the watch, cause that needs to be clean too.

5 | Between your fingers

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is the number one thing we can do, besides electing more responsible governments years ago. So, this is how to wash your hands.

6 | Under the fingers

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This is the part my three-year-old struggles with, You have to stick your elbows akimbo and interlock your fingers and then go up and down. The GIF at the top explains it better. This is to get under your grotty fingers.

7 | Thumbs

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Then you grab each thumb and twirl it good in your soapy palm. Left then right, right then left, whatever you prefer.

8 | Fingertips

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Then rub your fingertips around each palm. I spend a bit of time on this because I eat with my fingers and I like to have clean nails.

9 | Wrists

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I didn’t include this in the animated GIF because it’s not in the WHO recommendations, but you can also rub around each wrist.

If you’re just using hand sanitizer, now you’re done.

10 | Rinse Hands

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If you’re using soap and water, now you need to rinse your hands. I know that it’s a bit wasteful, but I usually leave the water running so I don’t have to touch the tap again.

11 | Elbow the tap closed

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If possible, elbow the tap closed. If it’s a turny one and you’re super para you can also wash the handle. The idea here is to not immediately recontaminate yourself.

12 | Dry your hands

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This is a bit hard, because not every place has disposable towels or a hot air blower. Home, for example. At home I use a towel, and where I live it’s hot enough that my hands naturally dry in a minute or two. But use not-contact drying if you can.

Now don’t touch your face

Now you can go back out into the dirty world as long as you avoid touching your face. Which is nearly impossible, but try.

Social distancing

The other thing to do is social distancing. Basically don’t go out unless you really have to. This should be mandated from the top to really work, but you can practice minimizing your trips out at all. When you do go out, wash your hands immediately after, or constantly throughout the day.

Once you start washing your hands correctly it’s easy and even meditative to do. As mentioned, even a toddler can do it. We still desperately need political leadership and global cooperation to beat this thing, but washing our hands is the least we can do. Now, hopefully, you know exactly how.

This GIF is based on a video by Focused Films. As the final authority, I have referenced the WHO guide to hand hygiene.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. Videos: and podcast:

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