Water-Free Hand Hygiene

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Infection Prevention and Control for Healthcare Personnel. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Water-Free Hand Hygiene

Alcohol-based hand rub
A preparation containing alcohol is designed for application to the hands to reduce the number of microorganisms on the hands. In the United States, such preparations usually contain 60% to 95% ethanol or isopropanol.
Guidelines developed by the CDC and infection control organizations recommend that healthcare workers use an alcohol-based hand rub (a gel, rinse, or foam) to routinely clean their hands between patient contacts, as long as hands are not visibly dirty. The phrase, foam in/foam out, is often used to remind associates to use hand foam when entering and leaving a patient's room. When using water-free hand hygiene, apply enough of the product to cover all surfaces of the hands and rub in until dry.
In certain situations, only soap and water are appropriate to clean hands adequately. The use of alcohol hand rub is NOT appropriate:
  • After using the toilet
  • Before eating
  • When hands are visibly soiled
  • After caring for patients with Clostridioides difficile, norovirus, or diarrhea.