• Soap

  • Paper towels

How to perform the skill:

  1. Turn Water On

  2. Check temperature

  3. Wet Hands front and back, let water run down your hand. Never touch sink.

  4. Apply soap and Lather front, back, between fingers, do circles on your palm to clean nails(one hand at a time using opposite hand to do circles on palm), clean thumb with opposing pointer finger, then clean wrists by cuping around your wirst with opposing hand.

  5. USE FRICTION for at least 15 seconds each area of hand.

  6. Rinse soap off with finger tips lower than wrist (One hand at a time, just let water run over it)

  7. Don't touch sink with anything!! Hands, fingers, or body.

  8. Pat Dry hands with a folded paper towel. (Don't shake it, and one towel per hand.)

  9. Use a clean paper towel folded NEATLY to turn off sink. (Neatness counts)


  • Hand washing should take at least 2 minutes

  • Hand washing must be done before and after every skill & sometimes in-between.

  • Hand washing should be done before and after you wear gloves and before and after you touch a patient.

  • Practice all the skills in real life with someone or a dummy it will definitely help you.

As mentioned previously, you will be required to take an exam to obtain your CNA license. This exam will consist of two portions, a written exam and a clinical exam (acting out your skills).  When performing the clinical portion of the exam, you will be specifically tested on proper hand washing technique required for medical personnel. You will also be tested on other skills that utilize proper hand washing technique before, after, and sometimes during the skill. Failure to learn and demonstrate proper hand washing technique will cause you to fail your CNA exam and will delay you from obtaining your license.

Proper hand washing technique is a basic but crucial skill required to become a CNA. Every other skill within a CNA’s repertoire will include the utilization of proper hand washing technique. Being able to wash your hands the right way will not only help you become a CNA, but will protect you against harmful pathogens and disease.

To begin proper hand washing, approach the sink with proper body mechanics and turn on the water. Check the water temperature with your wrist and adjust as needed.  You and/or your clothing should never touch the sink and/or countertop during this skill, with the exception of turning on and adjusting the water temperature.

Once you have achieved an ideal water temperature, wet the front and back of your hands by allowing the water to run down them. Apply soap to your hands and begin to lather. Remember, a proper hand washing technique should last about two minutes.

To begin lathering, rub your palms together in a back and forth motion to get them clean. Then, individually rub the top of each hand, allowing your fingers to interlock. This ensures the top of your hands and in between your fingers gets cleaned.

Next, bunch one of your hand’s fingers together and make small circles in the opposite palm. Repeat this step for your other hand. Continue by cleaning underneath your finger nails with the opposing thumb nail. Repeat this step for your other hand and end this step by cleaning the last used thumb nail with the opposing hand’s index fingernail.

Next, cup your wrist with the opposite hand and clean around it. Do this for both wrists as it provides a top barrier for your clean hands. Now, rinse your hands by allowing the water to flow down them. Again, it is important to maintain proper body mechanics and not to touch the sink while you are rinsing your hands. Touching the sink with your hands and/or clothing will disqualify you during your CNA examination.

After your hands have been completely rinsed of any soap, grab a paper towel and pat dry one of your hands. Throw away the contaminated paper towel and grab a new paper towel. Pat dry the remaining hand.

Once you have dried your hands, grab another paper towel. Neatly fold it and turn off the water with it. Properly dispose of the used paper towel and take a breath as you have just completed the proper hand washing skill.

As with all of the skills we cover, below is the simple step by step guide, key takeaways, and the notation of any supplies required for this skill. Once you feel confident in your hand washing abilities you may move onto the next skill.

Think you're ready?

Enter your zip code in the form below and we’ll match you with the best CNA schools near you and online. It’s fast and free!