Vector image of person washing their hands with soap and water

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continuing to impact people around the world, Sofidel, a provider of paper for hygienic and domestic use, released a list of recommendations for best hand hygiene practices that facilities can implement and promote.

When combined with other strategies, like social distancing and regular cleaning and disinfecting, hand hygiene can limit the spread of pathogens and support well-being.

“While many governments have enacted shelter in place orders, essential businesses are still operating, and consumers are frequenting these places for groceries, medications and more,” says Giorgia Giove, marketing manager – Away from Home, Sofidel America. “During this crisis, it’s important to revisit handwashing best practices to keep workers and building visitors hygienic and healthy.”

Sofidel suggests facilities do the following:

1. Encourage frequent handwashing

The National Institutes of Health found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is stable for several hours on surfaces. While many facilities have increased the frequency and thoroughness of cleaning and disinfection during the pandemic, they should urge employees and visitors to wash hands regularly to remove any germs that may have transferred from surfaces.

2. Promote proper handwashing

Very few people actually wash their hands correctly, according to past research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 2018 study found that consumers fail to properly clean their hands 97 percent of the time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations instruct people to scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. Post signage in restrooms and near sink stations that reminds people to pay special attention to often overlooked spots like the backs of hands, between fingers and underneath nails.

3. Regularly check inventory

Numerous studies have shown that not everyone washes their hands after using the restroom. This number will drop even further if employees and customers don’t have handwashing essentials. Make sure that they always have access to soap, running water and hand drying methods. Additionally, encourage restroom guests to take only what they need. A 2018 Harris Poll found that 24 percent of Americans admit to taking more paper towels than needed when using paper towels to dry their hands in a public restroom. Especially during a time when product shortages are an issue, everyone can and should help conserve resources.

4. Provide hand drying essentials

Adequately drying hands is equally essential as handwashing. According to the Mayo Clinic, wet hands spread germs more easily than dry hands. Make sure workers and customers have access to paper towels or air dryers so they can ensure complete hand hygiene.

5. Offer ways to keep hands clean between washes

Facilities can implement additional strategies that support clean hands, including installing automated hand-sanitizer stations, providing disinfectant wipes at facility entrances and disinfecting pens to sign receipts and requiring employees to wear and replace gloves frequently. While these tactics don’t eliminate the need for handwashing with soap and water, they offer further protection against contagious germs.