Hand hygiene practices

Antiseptic handwashing. Washing hands with soap and water, or other detergents containing an antiseptic agent.

Antiseptic handrubbing (or handrubbing). Applying an antiseptic handrub to reduce or inhibit the growth of microorganisms without the need for an exogenous source of water and requiring no rinsing or drying with towels or other devices.

Hand antisepsis/decontamination/degerming. Reducing or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms by the application of an antiseptic handrub or by performing an antiseptic handwash.

Hand care. Actions to reduce the risk of skin damage or irritation.

Handwashing. Washing hands with plain or antimicrobial soap and water.

Hand cleansing. Action of performing hand hygiene for the purpose of physically or mechanically removing dirt, organic
material, and/or microorganisms.

Hand disinfection is extensively used as a term in some parts of the world and can refer to antiseptic handwash, antiseptic handrubbing, hand antisepsis/decontamination/degerming, handwashing with an antimicrobial soap and water, hygienic hand antisepsis, or hygienic handrub. Since disinfection refers normally to the decontamination of inanimate surfaces and objects, this term is not used in these Guidelines.

Hygienic hand antisepsis. Treatment of hands with either an antiseptic handrub or antiseptic handwash to reduce the transient microbial flora without necessarily affecting the resident skin flora.

Hygienic handrub. Treatment of hands with an antiseptic handrub to reduce the transient flora without necessarily affecting the resident skin flora. These preparations are broad spectrum and fast-acting, and persistent activity is not necessary.

Hygienic handwash. Treatment of hands with an antiseptic handwash and water to reduce the transient flora without
necessarily affecting the resident skin flora. It is broad spectrum, but is usually less efficacious and acts more slowly
than the hygienic handrub.

Surgical hand antisepsis/surgical hand preparation/ presurgical hand preparation. Antiseptic handwash or antiseptic handrub performed preoperatively by the surgical team to eliminate transient flora and reduce resident skin flora. Such antiseptics often have persistent antimicrobial activity.

Surgical handscrub(bing)/presurgical scrub refer to surgical hand preparation with antimicrobial soap and water.

Surgical handrub(bing) refers to surgical hand preparation with a waterless, alcohol-based handrub.