How to hand wash correctly

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is hand washing?

The single most important action you can do to avoid infection is washing your hands.

Wash your hands when they are visibly dirty. Otherwise, use an alcohol hand-rub liquid.

Washing your hands should take 40–60 seconds.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

What to do

Wet hands with water.


Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces.


Rub hands palm to palm.


Rub right palm over top of left hand, with interlaced fingers and vice versa.  


Rub palm to palm with fingers interlaced.


Rub backs of fingers against opposing palms.


Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa.


Rub fingers of right hand around, back and forward in left palm, then vice versa.


Rinse hands with water.


Dry hands thoroughly with a single use towel.


Use the towel to turn the tap off.


Your hands are now safe.



Hand washing fact sheet

Related advice

Hand rubbing

Using sanitiser or liquid alcohol handrub? Here’s a handy fact sheet about the best, most effective way to use handrub.

Burns and scalds

Remember – do not apply oils, ointment, fat or ice to burns, and do not touch the injured or blistered area. Here’s a handy fact sheet of how to treat different types of burns and scalds.


Know the signs of coronavirus (COVID-19) and help stop the spread with this handy fact sheet.

Courses that teach this skill

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