Your hands open doors, handle money, touch public handrails and tabletops – and pick up plenty of germs along the way. Do you know: Your hands can have anywhere from 100,000 to a few million germs at any given time. And 4 out of 5 germs that cause illness are spread by hands.

We frequently touch our eyes, nose, and mouth without even realising it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick. Germs from unwashed hands can also get into foods and drinks while we prepare or consume them. The germs can also be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.

Removing germs through handwashing helps prevent diarrhoea and respiratory infections, and may even help prevent skin and eye infections. Wash your hands with soap – make sure to scrub them for 20 seconds – after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, before eating, and more.

It’s important to wash your hands with soap after toilet use too. A single gram of human faeces – about the weight of a paper clip – can contain 1 trillion germs!

Proper hand hygiene can protect yourself and others from falling ill. Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of diseases and save lives, says the United Nations.

Washing hands prevent infections, which reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat.