We're the handwashing experts

Handwashing is the first line of defense against pandemics like Coronavirus/COVID-19. In fact, it's one of the simplest, most effective and affordable disease prevention methods available.

A global problem

How do you wash your hands when there is no access to clean water, soap or hand sanitizer? How do health providers care for patients without running water? This is the stark reality for millions of people around the globe.

Please make an emergency donation to support our global hygiene efforts. These programs can mean the difference between life and death for vulnerable people around the world.

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.

Rub both hands together vigorously using soap and water until a soapy lather appears. Continue for at least 20 seconds - as long as it takes to sing happy birthday twice.

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 diarrheal diseases, cholera, pneumonia and intestinal worms.

These illnesses are very common in the countries where we work, 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.

Diarrhea 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. (Your Mom was right all along!)

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.

Get your kids on board

Teaching children the importance of handwashing

Whether it’s at school or at home, children need to understand how to wash their hands properly and why it’s important. Use our simple experiment to show your children what they need to do to clean their hands properly.

For young children, we really like this interactive example.



Need more homeschooling resources?

What we're doing about Coronavirus

As Coronavirus becomes a bigger threat to the global community, we have increased our work in hygiene promotion, primarily handwashing.

Support our Emergency Coronavirus Fund
Image: WaterAid/ Prashanth Vishwanathan

Our response

We are already building on the work we already do to make sure everyone, everywhere understands the value of good hygiene. But to support the prevention of coronavirus, we'll be focusing specifically on:

  • Putting in more handwashing facilities in areas where people need them most, making it easier for them to keep their hands clean and protect themselves.
  • Launching handwashing campaigns across all the countries where we work, making sure that everyone, wherever they live, knows how important it is to wash their hands with soap, when to do it and how to do it right.

Communities and governments are asking for our help, urgently. To contain the spread of Coronavirus, we must deliver hygiene and handwashing programs around the world, right now.

Please donate now