Hand Hygiene Best Practices

Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that promoting – and practicing – good hand hygiene is an incredibly effective way to wash away or eliminate germs that may cause illness. Providing hand soap and sanitizer is an easy way to improve hand hygiene in your facility, and PURELL® products show you’re doing everything you can to protect guests, customers, and employees.

We've compiled these best practices to help you equip your facility with a hand hygiene program that’s effective and easy to follow. You’ll find what you need to get the most from your hand hygiene program.

Restaurant worker wearing face mask shows an Open sign on window includes headline that reads Placement Guide

Placement is Key

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently recommended that facilities place hand hygiene products at all entrances and exits. Taking it one step further with a well-placed bottle, stand, or dispenser will remind everyone to practice good hand hygiene and can significantly increase the likelihood that people will sanitize their hands.

For more ways to maximize your hand hygiene program, check out our Product Placement section.

Create a Culture of Hand Hygiene

Along with proper placement of soap and sanitizer, it’s important to reinforce good hand hygiene practices throughout your facility. Sharing best practices, helpful tips on when and how often to wash and sanitize, and the proper techniques can help inspire staff and customers, and help you run a clean, high-quality facility.

Back to Basics

The CDC recommends handwashing with soap and water when hands are visibly soiled or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

Three steps for how to wash hands and three steps for how to sanitize hands for use with PURELL soaps and sanitizers


Placing soap and sanitizer in prominent locations will remind everyone to practice good hand hygiene. In addition, sharing best practices can also help inspire staff and customers to wash and sanitize at the right times.

When to wash and sanitize:

Wash and Sanitize before eating, preparing food, caring for someone sick, treating a wound, before meetings and gatherings

Wash and Sanitize after using the restroom, touching surfaces, blowing nose, coughing, sneezing, eating, touching garbage

Fact vs. Fiction: Hand Hygiene Myths

There are some common misconceptions about hand sanitizer out there. We’re busting myths on everything from antibiotic resistance to skin damage—get the real facts on alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Hand Sanitizer icon with a myth that reads Using hand sanitizer creates antibiotic resistance
MYTH: Using hand sanitizer creates antibiotic resistance.

TRUTH: Antibiotics operate completely differently than hand sanitizers. Typically, they’re ingested and slow the growth and reproduction of bacteria. PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer destroys the cell walls, killing bacteria quickly and evaporating before germs have a chance to develop a resistance.

Germ icon with a myth that reads Hand sanitizer creates superbugs
MYTH: Hand sanitizer creates superbugs.

TRUTH: Superbugs – or antibiotic-resistant bacteria – are created when bacteria build up a tolerance to treatments like antibiotics. The main ingredient in PURELL® hand sanitizers is ethyl alcohol, which destroys cell walls and evaporates quickly from the skin, which means bacteria don’t have the opportunity to fight back and build resistance.

Thumbs up and thumbs down icon with a myth that reads All germs are the same
MYTH: All germs are the same.

TRUTH: When it comes to germs on your skin, there are two types: resident organisms and transient ones. Resident organisms live in all the layers of our skin, while transient organisms are acquired when we touch things and can cause illness if they’re ingested before they can be removed from the skin.

Magnifying glass over a hand icon with a myth that reads Using hand sanitizer kills all germs on the skin – even the good ones
MYTH: Using hand sanitizer kills ALL germs on the skin - even the good ones.

TRUTH: Resident organisms are part of our normal microflora, and while it’s true that hand sanitizer does kill some of them on the outer layers of our skin, they repopulate quickly – and most live throughout the layers of our skin, and many remain unharmed. The transient organisms – the ones that can make you sick – are found on the surface layer of our skin and are eliminated when you sanitize.

Hand sanitizer droplet icon with a myth that reads All hand sanitizers are the same
MYTH: All hand sanitizers are the same.

TRUTH: On the surface, alcohol-based hand sanitizers may all seem identical, but how they’re formulated can impact their effectiveness, harshness on skin, and overall user experience. PURELL® hand sanitizers are formulated to maximize the power of alcohol while still maintaining skin health, making sanitizing a more enjoyable experience and promoting good hand hygiene.

Hand sanitizer dropping onto a hand icon with a myth that reads Frequently using hand sanitizer dries out my hands
MYTH: Frequently using hand sanitizer dries out my hands.

TRUTH: PURELL® hand sanitizers are formulated with the mildest, most effective ingredients available. So even in high-use situations, you can count on a product that not only eliminates germs that may cause illness but also helps keep your skin feeling soft.

Smiling girl washing her hands with PURELL Brand Healthy Soap in a school environment

Formulation Counts

Hand soaps and sanitizers are made to eliminate germs – but when does effectiveness outweigh skin health? For PURELL® products, it doesn’t. Our formulations are rooted in skincare science and feature mild and effective ingredients, so you don’t have to choose between effectiveness and gentleness.

See Why Formulation is Essential

Tools to Use in Your Facility

Get the tips & information you need to improve hand hygiene in your facility.

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