Promoting good hygiene habits, especially handwashing, has been a core part of our work since we started.

What is Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered Coronavirus. Infected with the COVID-19 virus, a person can experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment, while in some cases symptoms can be severe.

With specific treatments or a vaccine not yet available, preventing its spread from person to person is vital to reduce the outbreak's impact on people’s lives, health, livelihoods and the healthcare systems we all rely on.

The following can help prevent infection and slow transmission of COVID-19

  • Maintain at least 2-metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.

Handwashing is the key to preventing Coronavirus

Frequent, thorough handwashing with soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Like the common cold, Coronavirus is spread through droplets from a person coughing or sneezing, and potentially via contaminated surfaces.

Good hygiene is key to avoid spread  – or catching the virus.

Steps to handwashing explained: 

Our hygiene experts know a lot about how to wash your hands properly, to help prevent the spread of many illnesses, including Coronavirus (COVID-19). They’ve answered some of the most-asked questions about handwashing below.

Washing both hands with soap and water thoroughly and frequently is the most effective way to remove bacteria.

Rub both hands together vigorously using soap and water until a soapy lather appears. Continue for at least 20 seconds and then wash your hands with water.

Make sure you cover:

  • Palm to palm
  • The back of your hands
  • In between your fingers
  • The back of your fingers
  • Your thumbs
  • The tips of your fingers

Handwashing with soap can of course prevent the spread of diseases like COVID-19, slow down the spread of Ebola and can reduce the likelihood of contracting blinding trachoma. It can also help prevent life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhoeal diseases, cholera, pneumonia and intestinal worms.

These illnesses are very common amongst communities without decent toilets and clean water. For people who have no choice but to go to the toilet in the open, or drink water from unprotected and unsafe sources, bacteria can easily spread.

Diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor toilets kills a child under 5 every 2 minutes. That's why it's so important that everyone, everywhere has all three basics: clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

There's no evidence that washing your hands with cold or hot water makes a difference to killing bacteria. The important thing is to use soap, whatever the temperature of the water.

No. You should wash your hands with soap and water. If water and soap aren't available, use an alcohol based hand-rub.

No. Even after you've washed your hands, you can pick up new bacteria and germs and re-contaminate your hands - so it's really important to keep on washing your hands with soap and water throughout the day. Handwashing is only a good thing.

When you sneeze or cough you release droplets into the air or onto your hands, which is one of the ways viruses spread.

Always wash your hands after sneezing or coughing, to remove any droplets that may have landed on them.

You should only use hand sanitiser if water and soap aren't available, like when you're travelling or outside. If you do use it, you only need to wash your hands again if you think you have exposed yourself to more germs, for example, by touching a surface.

Creative repository for hygiene and COVID-19 campaign

Reduce the risk of transmission of Coronavirus

Along with other important behaviours, thoroughly washing hands often and at key moments is essential to controlling the pandemic. The graphic here shows five key steps you should take to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between people.

Steps to avoid COVID-19 transmission

Blogs on Hygiene and COVID-19

Handwashing Helps

Of Semmelweiss and hand hygiene in the times of Covid-19

There is a poignant story behind handwashing as a key preventive measure in the history of health and hygiene, writes Vanita Suneja.

Social distancing during the pandemic
Image: WaterAid/ Srishti Bharadwaj

Let’s choose social connection over social distance

Inequality in economics means vast disparities in health too, writes Ashima Narian as she delves into the spread of COVID-19 being conferred as “democratic”.