Infection prevention and control guidelines

2. Hand hygiene

When hands must be cleansed

      1. When hands must be cleansed

Last revised: 17 Jun 2024

When hands must be cleansed

Hands must be cleansed (following standardised procedures for hand hygiene) before and after every episode of patient contact and after activities that may cause contamination. These include:

  • before and after eating
  • before and after routine use of gloves
  • after handling any used medical devices (eg instruments or equipment)
  • after going to the toilet
  • when visibly soiled or perceived to be soiled
  • before and after every procedure
  • before and after any contact with patients.

5 moments for hand hygiene

‘5 moments for hand hygiene’ (Table 2.2. The 5 moments of hand hygiene) is a simple strategy developed by the World Health Organization and adopted by the National Hand Hygiene Initiative to:

  • protect patients from transmission of infectious agents from the hands of healthcare workers
  • help to protect patients from infectious agents (including their own) entering their bodies during procedures
  • protect healthcare workers and the healthcare surroundings from acquiring patients’ infectious agents.

Table 2.2. The 5 moments of hand hygiene

  1. Before touching a patient
  2. Before a procedure
  3. After a procedure or body substance exposure risk
  4. After touching a patient
  5. After touching a patient’s surroundings.

Source: National Hand Hygiene Initiative1