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close this bookWhere Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)
close this folderHealth Care Skills
close this folderPreventing infection
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWashing your hands
View the documentHow to disinfect equipment and tools

Washing your hands

Let your hands dry in the air instead of using a towel. Do not touch anything until your hands are dry.

Wash your hands before and after caring for another person. It the most important way to kill germs living on your skin. You need to wash your hands even more thoroughly and for a longer time:

· before and after helping someone give birth.
· before and after touching a wound or broken skin.
· before and after giving an injection, or cutting or piercing a body part.
· after touching blood, urine, stool, mucus, or fluid from the vagina.
· after removing gloves.


Use soap to remove dirt and germs. Count to 30 as you scrub your hands all over with the soapy lather. Use a brush or soft stick to clean under your nails. Then rinse. Use water that flows. Do not reuse water if your hands must be very clean.

Try making a Tippy Tap. It will save water and will make it easy to keep a supply of clean water for washing hands.

Use a large, clean plastic bottle with a handle.

1. Pinch the handle together here with a pair of hot pliers or a hot knife.


2. Make a small hole in the handle, just above where you sealed it.


3. To hang the tippy tap, make 2 more holes in the other side of the bottle and pass a string through them. Now you can hang it on a peg or tree branch.

4. Fill the bottle with clean water and replace the lid.

5. When you tip the bottle forward, the water will flow out, so you can wash your hands. Do not make the hole too large or it will waste water.


You can also hang a bar of soap from the string.