Hand washing for hand hygiene is the act of cleaning one’s hands with or without the use of water or another liquid, or with the use of soap, for the purpose of removing soil, dirt, and/or microorganisms.
Medical hand hygiene pertains to the hygiene practices related to the administration of medicine and medical care that prevents or minimizes the spreading of disease. The main medical purpose of washing hands is to cleanse the hands of pathogens (including bacteria or viruses) and chemicals which can cause personal harm or disease. This is especially important for people who handle food or work in the medical field, but it is also an important practice for the general public. People can become infected with respiratory illnesses such as influenza or the common cold, for example, if they don’t wash or sanitize their hands before touching their eyes, nose or mouth.