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How do you wash hands properly?


Safe food handling requires a clean environment free from contaminates. An important factor in preventing food contamination is keeping your hands clean. Hand washing is also a simple way of avoiding sickness and disease. It is important to wash hands properly and at appropriate times.

In food handling environments it is an important food safety requirement that you wash hands regularly, in particular:

  • before commencing work in a food handling area
  • before commencing handling food
  • after handling fresh / raw meat
  • before leaving a food handling area
  • after going to the toilet
  • after eating any food

In order to properly cleanse you need to use a hand washing technique that does not recontaminate your hands. The recommended procedure you should use to wash hands with soap and water is as follows.

  1. Wet hands under running water
  2. Apply soap
  3. Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds being sure to rub up to your wrists, between your fingers and under your finger nails
  4. Rinse your hands under running water
  5. Dry your hands on a clean, single use paper towel
  6. Turn the water off using the paper towel
  7. Dispose of the paper towel without touching the waste receptacle with your hands


By law all food preparation areas must be equipped with a dedicated hand washing sink. You will sometimes find that you need to wash hands in a place where there is no running water. In these situations you should use a hand sanitizer. Gel type hand sanitizers contain up to 60% ethyl alcohol and are flammable, foaming type hand sanitizers do not contain alcohol and are non-flammable. Antimicrobial towellettes and wipes are also a convenient and effective way to wash hands where soap and water are not available.

If you would like to know more about food safety and safe food handling the Australian Online College has two (2) courses available. Why not enrol in a safe food handling certificate course now? 

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This page is about how to wash hands properly, hand sanitizer, hand washing, food safety and food safe handling.

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Joshua Walhain
17.12.11, 15:31
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