Process:  To double wash fingertips and hands to reduce by 1,000,000 to 1 pathogens from feces and vomit on fingertips and underneath fingernails and to single wash to reduce 1,000 to 1 pathogens on hands from raw ingredients when preparing food in the kitchen.

The Hazard:  When employees arrive from home or after using the toilet and toilet paper, they must be assumed to have <1,000,000 pathogens on their fingertips and underneath fingernails.  This level must be reduced 100,000 to 1 (to 10 or fewer) to assure that the transfer of pathogens to the food that the employees handle is at a safe level.  When simply working in the kitchen and touching raw food such as meat and poultry, employees might get 1,000 or fewer pathogens on their hands.  A 100-to-1 reduction is sufficient to assure safety.


Get ready.  Check to see that there is an adequate supply of unscented, non-antibacterial hand detergent, an Anchor Surgeon’s Scrub nail brush, and disposable paper towels at the hand sink.  Water temperature is not a factor, but it must flow at 2 gallons per minute.

The double wash with the nail brush.  Turn on the water.  Let it flow rapidly at 2 gallons per minute.  It is the water that removes the pathogens.  Temperature of water has not been shown to be significant.

Apply detergent to the fingernail brush.  Place enough detergent (1/2 teaspoon or 3 to 5 ml) to build a good lather on the fingers.

Brush and lather, particularly fingertips and fingernails.  Hold the brush with the bristles up, and touch the tips of the fingers of the hand that held the toilet paper to the tips of the bristles.  Gently brush the tips of the fingers, without bending the bristles, while water runs over the fingers and washes the pathogens down the drain.  Continue until the brush and the fingers have no lather (about 10 seconds).  This will give a 1,000-to-1 reduction of pathogens.

Put the nail brush down with bristles up.  This allows the water to run off so that the brush dries sufficiently that bacteria cannot multiply.

Second wash for additional toilet / food pathogen reduction or first wash for reduction of food pathogens to a safe level.  Add 1/2 teaspoon or 3 to 5 ml of hand detergent to the palm of one hand.

Under flowing water, massage the hands. fingertips, and between the fingers.  If you are going to be mixing food such as pie dough, where arms could be in contact with food, wash up to the shirtsleeves.  Thoroughly rinse all of the lather from the fingertips, hands, and arms in flowing warm water.  The step takes about 10 seconds, and when the detergent and lather are gone from the skin, the pathogens are reduced 100 to 1, or 10 or fewer.

The nail brush wash, followed by this second wash, gives a total of greater than 100,000-to-1 reduction of pathogens on fingertips.  Used alone, the second wash reduces the 1,000 or fewer pathogens from raw food to a safe level, or 10 or fewer.

Dry hands using paper towel(s).  Use clean, disposable paper towel(s) to thoroughly dry hands (and arms).  This reduces the microorganisms an additional 10 to 1 for a total double wash reduction of 1,000,000 to 1, or single wash reduction of 1,000-to-1.