Respiratory viruses such as the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, spread when mucus or droplets containing the virus enter your body through your eyes, nose or throat. This happens often through hands.
During a global pandemic, frequent washing of hands with soap and water is an important way to prevent the virus from spreading. It is a simple and very cost-effective measure.
Wash your hands properly - how does it work?
To eliminate all traces of the virus on your hands, a quick scrub and rins is not enough. Below is a step-by-step process for effective hand washing.
- Wet your hands with water. Warm water feels better, but is not important for the result.
- Soap your hands completely
- Rub your hands together to make them foamy. Scrub between your fingers, under nails and back of your hands. Do this for about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, you can sing "Happy Birthday" twice.
- Rinse the soap thoroughly under running water.
- Dry your hands with a paper or clean towel. Do not use towels that others have used before. If nothing is available, you can let them air dry.
When should I wash my hands?
As part of COVID-19 prevention, you should make sure that you wash your hands at the following times (source UNICEF&WHO):
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After visiting a public space, including public transport, markets and places of worship
- After touching surfaces outside the house, including money
- Before, during and after the care of a sick person
- Before and after the meal
In general, you should always wash your hands at the following times:
- After using the toilet
- Before and after the meal
- After the treatment of waste
- After touching animals and pets
- After changing babies or after helping to use the toilet
- When your hands are visibly dirty
**When should I use hand sanitizer?
Washing your hands with soap and water is as effective as hand disinfection, provided you follow the rules above. If there is no sink or soap available, a disinfectant can be used. It must contain at least 60% alcohol and be rubbed into your hands for at least 20 seconds to kill viruses or bacteria. Again, care should be taken to ensure that all part of your hands are consistently covered. Persons with an increased risk of infection (old people, sick persons) or persons who have close contact with these persons should additionally carry out hand disinfection after washing their hands with soap.
How else can I help to stop the spread of the corona virus?
- Use the correct sneezing and coughing etiquette: sneeze with mouth and nose into the bent elbow
- Avoid touching your face (mouth, nose, eyes)
- Keep your distance. Avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing people, sharing food, utensils, cups and towels.
- Avoid close contact with people who have cold or flu-like symptoms
- Clean surfaces more frequently, especially in public areas
You can find videos about proper handwashing and further information at