2.3.1  Handwashing

Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly at certain critical times, as listed in Box 2.2. Washing should be done using clean water that has not been used by anyone else and with soap or a soap substitute such as ash. Ideally, the water should be hot. After washing, the hands should be dried using a clean cloth or allowed to dry in the air.

Box 2.2 Critical times for handwashing

The occasions in everyday activity when hands should be washed include:

  • after using the latrine or toilet (or disposing of human or animal faeces)
  • after cleaning a child’s bottom or changing a baby’s nappy and disposing of the faeces
  • after contact with blood or body fluids (e.g. vomit)
  • immediately after touching raw food, especially meat, when preparing meals
  • before preparing and handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
  • before eating food or feeding children
  • after contact with contaminated surfaces (e.g. rubbish bins, cleaning cloths, food-contaminated surfaces)
  • after handling pets and domestic animals
  • after wiping or blowing the nose or sneezing into the hands
  • after handling soiled tissues (your own or others’, e.g. children).

This list is frequently summarised as five critical times, which are:

  • after using the latrine
  • after cleaning a child’s bottom
  • before preparing food
  • before eating
  • before feeding a child.

2.3  Safeguarding health with good hygiene

2.3.2  Food hygiene