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How to properly wash your hands: A step-by-step hand care guide

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Looking for some expert advice on how to improve your business’ hand care routine? We’ve put together a guide on how to properly wash your hands and some hand hygiene tips for work related skin diseases (prevention and care). We also summarise the benefits of alcohol-based versus alcohol-free hand sanitisers to help inform your decision-making process as a business.

How to properly wash your hands (step-by-step)

Make sure to always wash your hands after visiting the loo, after coming into contact with old printed materials, before and after eating, before and after meetings, after using shared equipment and after using borrowed devices or tools.

  1. Remove jewellery if possible prior to washing your hands.
  2. Wet your hands with running water and apply enough soap to cover your hands.
  3. Rub your hands together, making sure to clean the backs of your hands and in between your fingers. Rub your fingertips together and don’t forget to clean your thumbs, too. Make sure to get under your nails, especially if you have long nails.
  4. Rinse your hands with running water and dry your hands thoroughly with a disposable towel. You can use this towel to turn off the tap without having to re-contaminate your hands.

Read the NHS’s full guide on how to properly wash your hands here.

Hand hygiene tips for work related skin diseases

Have a read of our hand hygiene tips to prevent work related skin diseases:

  1. Educate staff of the risks. Everyone needs to understand not only what the established skincare programme is (e.g. what creams, lotions and other skin care products are available), but why a preventative programme is being put in place. Education is key. All staff need to be made aware of the importance of skincare and hand hygiene, and given appropriate learning tools where necessary.
  2. Only use specialist products. These products should be extremely high quality with the aim of protecting and reconditioning the skin. A specialist manufacturer will tailor the right type of skincare programme to match your industry and workers’ needs, making all the difference to their health over longer periods.
  3. Make seasonal adjustments. Your hand hygiene routine and skincare programme needs to be able to adapt to the time of year. In hotter weather, germs and bacteria thrive and it’s important to have an easily accessible hand cleanser which will help stop the spread of illnesses. In winter, skin can dry out and a programme that uses specialist creams or oil extracts which contain moisturising chemicals can help protect the skin.
  4. Keep it easy and accessible. Having clear instructions and guides on the wall next to hand cleaning stations will encourage employees to properly wash and care for their hands. It’s also important to keep hand cleaning, sanitising and reconditioning products easily accessible and re-filled.

Identifying common workplace skincare disorders

Causes of occupational skin diseases include immersion, contact with contaminated tools or surfaces, splashing and substances landing on the skin. However, some workers are more at risk from occupational skin disorders, including those in construction, healthcare, food service, auto-repair and cosmetology. Essentially, anybody who works with harsh cleaning chemicals is more at risk, as their skin will likely come into contact with hazardous chemicals.

Contact dermatitis

Irritant dermatitis

  • This is normally caused by a chemical agent coming into contact with the skin. There are varying degrees of severity, but as a general rule, the longer a chemical is in contact with skin, the worse the case becomes.
  • Irritant dermatitis then makes the skin more vulnerable to other hazards, such as bacteria and chemicals.
  • An important classification of irritant dermatitis, is that the condition stops after contact with the irritant stops.
  • Causes of irritant dermatitis include cleaning products, organic solvents, metalworking fluids, cement and other chemicals, some plants and shrubs, and water.

Allergic dermatitis

  • This can be caused by exposure to an allergen or sensitiser, normally a hazardous substance. It’s not uncommon for irritant dermatitis to lead to allergic dermatitis.
  • The cause of allergic dermatitis is the sufferer’s immune system being sensitised to the hazardous material as opposed to the chemical agent itself.
  • Once sensitised, the problem is often a lifelong one and any further contact or exposure will have the same reaction.

Contact urticaria

  • Contact urticaria is a skin condition characterised by redness and swellings.
  • The swellings appear where the hazardous substance has come into contact with the skin and normally occur within an hour of exposure, and disappear after 24 hours.
  • Latex is a common cause of the condition.


  • Acne is caused by blockage of glands in the skin which then become inflamed.
  • There are many causes for this, including exposure to substances such as oil, halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons and coal tar.
  • It can also be caused by long term contact with oily clothes.


  • Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles. This condition is common in people working in the metal industry who are exposed to mineral and soluble oils.

Pigmentary disorders

  • Pigmentary disorders include depigmentation (a loss of skin colour), and hyperpigmentation (an accumulation of skin colour).
  • Depigmentation can be caused by chemicals such as hydroquinone, phenol (and its derivatives), arsenic and mercury compounds. It can also be caused by ionising and ultraviolet radiation, as well as thermal or physical trauma.
  • Hyperpigmentation can be caused by mineral oils, halogenated hydrocarbons, arsenic and various pharmaceutical agents.

Skin cancers

  • Skin cancer can be caused by ultraviolet light (either sunlight or artificial), ionising radiation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, tar, and tar products.
  • Jobs that require a lot of labour outside in the sun or working with radiation, have a higher risk of skin cancer.

Alcohol-based vs alcohol-free hand sanitiser

Did you know, in 2021 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, UK consumers bought £38.7m worth of hand sanitiser? Commercial hand sanitiser is an incredibly convenient and highly effective product for reducing germs in the workplace and lessening the transmission of infectious diseases. But when it comes to choosing the best hand sanitiser for your business, is it best to choose an alcohol-based or alcohol-free option?

Benefits of alcohol-based hand sanitiser

  • Proven that they can kill many strains of bacteria and viruses, including enveloped viruses, such as Coronavirus, Herpesvirus, Hepatitis D and Poxvirus, by dissolving the lipid membrane surrounding them.
  • The CDC say that alcohol based hand sanitisers can even kill antibiotic-resistant germs by destroying the proteins and protective outer membrane that germs need to survive (these sanitisers need to contain a minimum of 60% alcohol content to be effective, with the ideal range being within the 60-95% bracket).
  • Very effective for periodic disinfection between hand washes.

Benefits of alcohol-free hand sanitiser

  • Gentler on the skin due to the absence of drying alcohol (often uses Benzalkonium chloride instead, which has antiseptic properties and reliably kills bacteria).
  • Can offer longer-lasting protection between hand washes.
  • Ideal for school settings as they’re usually non-toxic and less hazardous in the event of accidental ingestion.

Choosing the best hand sanitiser for your business

The best hand sanitiser for your business depends on the people who will be using the product. For example, hospitals, care homes or other healthcare settings require highly effective, high alcohol percentage hand sanitisers in order to prevent the transmission of germs as much as possible, especially due to the vulnerability of some patients and the high risk of exposure to germs.

However, the needs of individuals with skin conditions, such as eczema, need to be considered too. Providing alcohol-free alternatives alongside alcohol-based options means that everybody is more likely to keep up with a regular hand sanitising routine.

For places such as schools or nurseries where children are present, alcohol-free hand sanitisers are the preferred option due to the reduced risk of adverse effects upon accidental ingestion and the higher likelihood of skin sensitivity to harsher ingredients.

At Chela, we understand the importance of workplace guidance on how to properly wash your hands. We manufacture and develop a range of professional hand care products for business, including sensitive formulations, and those suitable for a range of sectors. To find out more about how Chela can help with your businesses’ hand cleaning and hand care, please get in contact with the team at [email protected] or on +44(0)20 8805 2150.