The COVID-19 pandemic provides an important reminder that one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs and stay healthy is also one of the simplest — handwashing with soap and water. Keeping hands clean can prevent 1 in 3 diarrheal illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.
Each year on October 15, Global Handwashing Day highlights the importance of handwashing with soap and water at home, in the community, and around the world.
Global Handwashing Day serves as a yearly reminder that handwashing with soap and water is one of the best steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. The observance was established by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008. This year’s theme, “Hand Hygiene for All,” seeks to raise awareness of making soap and water available globally, especially in public places, schools, and health care facilities. It also calls for institutions and individuals to improve hand hygiene efforts in the COVID-19 response that can outlast the pandemic and ensure continued access to clean water and soap.
Many germs that can make people sick are spread when we don’t wash our hands with soap and clean, running water. That is why handwashing is so important, especially at key times such as after using the bathroom, when preparing food, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
Do I really need to wash my hands for 20 seconds?
Scientific studies show that you need to scrub for 20 seconds to remove harmful germs and chemicals from your hands. If you wash for a shorter time, you will not remove as many germs. Make sure to scrub all areas of your hands, including your palms, backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.