Good hygiene is important all year round to protect ourselves, and others, from illness. During winter, influenza, colds and gastroenteritis are more common and easily spread among people. It's therefore important to observe good hygiene practices like washing your hands regularly and thoroughly to prevent the spread of viruses. Former Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester provides some helpful advice on handwashing.
Good hygiene is important all the year round, of course. But we do know that influenza viruses and other viruses which cause common colds and gastroenteritis are more common in the winter and seem to spread more easily between people. Therefore, it’s very important that we all observe good hygiene practices.

You should wash your hands before and after preparing food, after going to the toilet and after you cough or sneeze and use a tissue or handkerchief.

To wash your hands well, you need to put them under the tap and get some liquid soap or hard soap on your hands. Work the soap up into a really good lather. Rinse your hands very carefully and dry them on disposable paper towels. Dispose of the paper towel straight away into a bin.

When you cough or sneeze, it’s ideal to have a tissue. Put the tissue over your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. You should then dispose of the tissue straight away and wash your hands if you’re able to. If you don’t have access to soap and running water, the alcohol-based hand rubs are a very good alternative.

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services

Last updated: October 2015

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