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What is the most effective method for hand washing?

Good hand washing and drying practices as recommended by the WHO – with soap and water – are still the number one way to prevent infectious diseases. The WHO has advised effective hand washing as one of the basic protective measures against the new coronavirus. Soap works better than alcohol, sanitisers or disinfectants to destroy viruses, because soap contains fat-like molecules known as amphiphiles. Some amphiphile molecules are structurally similar to the fatty membrane which holds a virus together. These similarities make the soap amphiphiles compete with the fat molecules in the virus membrane. This dissolves the membrane holding the virus together, causing the virus to fall apart and become inactive. 1. Wash your hands with soap and water following the following stages: A) Hand washing (40-60 sec): wet hands and apply soap; rub all surfaces; rinse hands and dry thoroughly with a single-use towel, use towel to turn off faucet. B) Using an alcohol-based formulation, rub hands for 20-30 seconds: apply enough product to cover all areas of the hands; rub the surfaces until dry. 2. Clean your hands by rubbing them with an alcohol-based formulation if you are not able to access soap and water, ensuring you follow the same techniques you would with soap and water. Rub thoroughly until all of the sanitiser has been absorbed.

Viral testing with this novel Coronavirus against commercially available products has not yet been carried out due to the availability of the virus to test against – current claims against coronaviruses will relate to that of ‘enveloped viruses’ (viruses with an outer layer at the stage of their life-cycle when they are between host cells) and coronavirus substitutes.

Further information will be provided through regular updates to this page, so please check back or bookmark this page. Alternatively, you can keep up-to-date with country-specific guidance and the current recommendations from dedicated websites for the WHO and the CDC.

Until such time that the Coronavirus COVID-19 is scientifically understood, you may wish to download our leaflet on Recommended hand hygiene steps to prevent the spread of viruses.

Free download of recommended hand hygiene steps from Rentokil.

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