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Handwashing is hand hygiene with plain or antimicrobial soap and water to physically remove dirt, organic material, and microorganisms. However, it may not kill all microorganisms. The handwashing procedure requires a hand wash basin, liquid soap, paper towels, a domestic waste bin, and disposable nail cleaner as optional equipment.

Hand wash basins in clinical areas should have faucets that can be turned on and off without using the hands; that is, they should be non-touch or lever-operated. Basins used exclusively by clinical staff for hand hygiene should not have drain plugs. Patients' basins may require drain plugs, which will require careful management to reduce the risk of water overflowing in the area. Access to basins must be unobstructed by any furniture or equipment to ensure they can easily be used whenever required.

The tap's placement must be away from the outflow so that water does not fall into it directly because this could cause splashes containing organisms from the drain. Taps should be of a mixer type that allows the temperature to be set beforehand washing starts.

Dispensers for liquid soap should be placed close to sinks for hand washing, and special precautions should be taken to ensure the soap does not leak from the dispenser and cause a slip hazard.

A paper towel dispenser should be mounted to the wall close to the hand wash basin. Hand towels should be of adequate quality to ensure that hands are completely dried using one or two towels. To conveniently dispose of these towels, a suitable bin with a pedal-operated lid should be positioned close to the wash basin but not so close it obstructs access.

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