Handwashing Tips for Healthcare Workers

Proper handwashing steps to help keep the workplace germ-free!

In any healthcare facility, it’s essential to keep the workplace clean and germ-free to help ensure the safety and health of your patients and visitors. Every healthcare professional understands that a good way to prevent the spreading of germs and infections is to wash their hands.

If you’re very busy, it may be easy to wash for a few seconds and then air dry them. However, it’s necessary to wash hands thoroughly and dry each time. The American College for Medical Careers (ACMC) provides you with a checklist based on handwashing tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.

1. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds

Washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can significantly help reduce the amount of germs on your hands. Some people sing the Happy Birthday song or recite the alphabet twice to make sure they’ve washed their hands long enough to kill germs. Make sure to lather up with plenty of soap!

2. Don’t rush!

Even if you’re busy, take the time to wash your hands thoroughly. Scrub soap in between fingers, underneath fingernails, and up the forearms. Make sure you wash with warm water to help increase the chances of killing bacteria.

3. Completely dry your hands

Different studies argue about whether it’s better to dry your hands with a paper towel or underneath a hand dryer. However, some studies show that it’s best to completely dry your hands with a paper towel. Since bacteria and microorganisms still have the potential to live within moist areas, it’s best to completely dry your hands so you can reduce the spread of bacteria to your patients.

4. Avoid long or fake nails

Growing your nails long or wearing acrylic or fake nails helps foster environments for germs to grow. Dirt and microorganisms can be picked up more easily throughout the day. Keep nails trimmed to a quarter inch to avoid access dirt and bacteria. Avoid fake nails altogether since they can fall off or get stuck in gloves.

5. Wash at appropriate times

All healthcare facilities have handwashing policies to follow. However, healthcare professionals should remember to wash during these times:

  • Before patient contact
  • After touching a patient’s skin or body
  • After removing gloves
  • After handling specimens
  • After handling bodily fluids
  • After dressing wounds

Bonus tip:

Avoid the reinfection of your hands! Before you exit the restroom or exam room, turn off the faucet and open the door handle with a paper towel. This will prevent the bacteria on handles from spreading on your newly washed hands! You should also remember to avoid touching your cell phone before you assist a patient. Studies show cell phones are some of the most bacteria-ridden surfaces!

We hope these handwashing tips keep you and your patients safe and clean! Whether you’re a healthcare worker or not, these handwashing safety tips can help you keep any environment safer from infections and diseases that are spread from person to person.


ACMC offers healthcare training programs including Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and Medical Assisting. We enjoy providing training to the healthcare workers of the future. Contact us to learn more information or schedule a tour!