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Clinical Systems Infection Control

Quick Response: What should I use for washing my hands before gloving?


This question was submitted by a general dentist: What should I use for washing my hands before gloving?

Dr. Nita Mazurat, representing the Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (OSAP) has provided this quick initial response


To wash your hands prior to gloving, you can use plain or antimicrobial soap which are recommended for hand washing at the beginning and the end of the day. Your hand wash should be about 20 seconds long.

Between patients and if your hands are not visibly soiled, a shorter wash with plain water is adequate and a hand sanitizer can also be used.


Do you need further information on this topic? Do you have any comments or suggestions? Email us at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

Your are invited to comment on this post and provide further insights by posting in the comment box which you will find by clicking on “Leave a reply“ below. You are welcome to remain anonymous and your email address will not be posted.




  1. David Rose May 23, 2013

    So which is better – soap and water or hand sanitizer? Reference please.

    1. Thank you for your question. My analogy to “what is best” is similar to patients asking us which toothpaste is best. “Best” plaque control is not based on the toothpaste but rather on properly performed toothbrushing. “Best” hand hygiene is based on tailoring for your specific needs based on your facilities and the specific situation to be addressed. I have taken the following quote from the 2003 CDC “Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings”.

      “The preferred method of hand hygiene depends on the type of procedure, the degree of contamination, and the desired persistence of antimicrobial action on the skin. For routine dental examinations and nonsurgical procedures, handwashing and hand antisepsis is achieved by using either a plain or antimicrobial soap and water. If the hands are not visibly soiled, an alcohol-based hand rub is adequate.”

      Please visit the document to access Table 2 that provides hand-hygiene methods and indications.


      For a more comprehensive discussion about hand hygiene visit http://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene

      The new CDC guidelines are expected 2013 or 2014. I do not anticipate extensive changes to the 2003 hand hygiene protocol.

      Dr. Mazurat

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