What are wash hands signs? - The Sign Shed

What are wash hands signs?

What are wash hands signs?

Wash hands signs are visual cues designed to remind people to clean their hands regularly, particularly in settings where proper hand hygiene is crucial to help prevent the spread of germs and infections. These signs are commonly found in healthcare facilities, public restrooms, food preparation areas, and other environments where frequent handwashing is essential.

Purpose of Wash Hands Signs

Wash hands signs serve several essential purposes in promoting hand hygiene practices:

  1. Visual Reminder: Wash hands signs provide a constant visual reminder to people to clean their hands, especially in areas where handwashing is crucial for preventing the spread of germs.
  2. Promote Hand Hygiene: By prompting individuals to wash their hands, these signs contribute to a hand hygiene culture and help reduce the transmission of infectious diseases.
  3. Emphasise the Importance of Handwashing: Wash hands signs emphasise the importance of handwashing as a critical part in maintaining personal hygiene and preventing the spread of illnesses.
  4. Promote Compliance with Regulations: Wash hands signs may be mandated by regulations to ensure proper hand hygiene practices are followed in specific settings, such as healthcare facilities and food service establishments.

Design and Symbolism of Wash Hands Signs

Wash hands signs follow standardised designs and symbols to ensure clarity and consistency:

  1. Universal Handwashing Icon: The universally recognised handwashing icon, depicting a hand under running water, is often used on wash hands signs to convey the message.
  2. Clear and Concise Text: Wash hands signs typically include clear and concise text, such as "Wash Hands Frequently" or "Clean Your Hands Before Eating," to reinforce the message.
  3. Step-by-Step Instructions: Some wash hands signs may provide detailed step-by-step instructions on how to wash hands properly, ensuring that individuals follow the correct technique.
  4. Visual Illustrations: Visual illustrations or pictograms can supplement text descriptions, providing additional guidance on proper handwashing techniques.

Placement of Wash Hands Signs

Wash hands signs should be strategically placed in visible locations where they are most likely to be seen and acted upon. They should be positioned near sinks, restrooms, entrances to food preparation areas, and other areas where handwashing is essential. Signs should be mounted at a height easily seen by occupants, typically between 3 and 5 feet from the floor.

Examples of Wash Hands Signs

Some common examples of washing hands signs include:

  1. Generic Wash Hands Signs: These signs remind people to wash their hands frequently, using clear and concise text.
  2. Step-by-Step Wash Hands Signs: These signs provide detailed instructions on how to wash hands properly, with pictograms or illustrations accompanying each step.
  3. Germ-Specific Wash Hands Signs: These signs emphasise the importance of washing your hands in preventing the spread of specific germs, such as bacteria or viruses.
  4. Motivational Wash Hands Signs: These signs use creative messages or graphics to encourage people to wash their hands, often with a humorous or lighthearted approach.
  5. Wash Hands in Designated Areas Signs: These signs indicate specific areas where handwashing is required, such as before entering a food preparation area or after using the restroom.

HSE Guidelines

The UK's HSE (Health and Safety Executive) provides guidelines for effective hand hygiene practices and the use of wash hands signs. These guidelines recommend:

  1. Strategic Placement: Place wash hands signs in visible locations near sinks, restrooms, and other relevant areas.
  2. Clear and Concise Messaging: Use clear and concise text or pictograms easily understood by a diverse range of people.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Ensure that wash hands signs are clean, well-maintained, and free from damage or obscuration.
  4. Compliance with Regulations: Adhere to relevant regulations regarding the placement and design of wash hands signs in specific settings.


Wash hands signs are crucial in promoting hand hygiene practices and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. By providing clear and consistent reminders, these signs contribute to a safer and healthy environment for everyone. Regular maintenance, strategic placement, and adherence to HSE guidelines ensure that wash hands signs remain effective in promoting proper hand hygiene.

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