Hand Washing Procedure 41,43

An antiseptic hand wash will remove debris and oil from the skin and

kill bacteria on the skin surface. Please see below for our step-by-step

Guide to Hand Washing.


Wet the hands with warm running water and apply enough of the antiseptic product

to cover all hand surfaces. Ensure the product is in contact with hands for the length

of time specified by the manufacturer.


Follow this 6-step process to ensure coverage of all areas of the hands:

1. Palm to palm

2. Right palm over left dorsum and left palm over right dorsum

3. Palm to palm fingers interlaced

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

5. Rotational rubbing, backwards forwards with clasped fingers of right clasped in left palm and vice versa

6. Rinse the hands with water and dry thoroughly with a clean paper towel.

It is important to keep nails short and clean, not to wear jewellery on the hands or wrists and to wear short sleeves. Chlorhexidine, iodophors and triclosan are suitable antiseptic products and are commonly used for hand washing in veterinary practice. Alcohol hand gels can be used to disinfect hands if they are not soiled by organic matter.


Hands should be washed and/or disinfected:

- Between patients

- Before and after wearing gloves

- Before any clean procedure

- After any risk of exposure to contaminated fluids or tissues

- When hands are visibly soiled

- Before and after eating or smoking

- After cleaning e.g. kennels

- On arrival at and before leaving the practice


Surgical scrubbing43

A surgical scrub should kill bacteria on the skin surface and have a prolonged depressant effect on resident bacteria. Hands should be held above the elbows to allow water to flow away, and the antiseptic product should be in contact with the skin for the required length of time as stated by the manufacturer. There are various suitable methods, but particular attention should be paid to the fingernails as this area has the highest bacterial load.

Disclaimer:  Indications and doses may vary between products.  The antimicrobials listed may constitute an off licence use of the product and as such should only be used according to the ‘Cascade’, further details of which are available on the RCVS, VMD and NOAH websites.  Veterinary surgeons are advised to carefully check the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) before prescribing a product and obtain informed owner consent where required.