Most of the time when we look at our hands, they seem clean. However, they can look clean but still be covered by many thousands of tiny microbes. Touching faeces, either from cleaning ourselves after defecating, or cleaning up a young child or baby, will always cause our hands to become covered in microbes from the faeces. Touching the door of the latrine, or working in soil which may contain faeces, will also make our hands dirty.

Careful hand washing with soap and water will remove these microbes. This can be done with very little water. If soap is not available, ash, tree bark or soil can be used instead. It is really important to always wash our hands well after touching faeces, before preparing or handling food, and after handling raw meat. This simple action is the most important thing we can do to reduce the risk of diarrhoea and many other diseases. It is better not to wash in a shared bowl of water, but instead to either scoop out the water as we wash or have someone pour fresh water over our hands.

Keeping fingernails short and clean will also keep our hands cleaner.


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