October 15th

Global Handwashing Day -

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Global Handwashing Day is an international observance that advocates for the crucial role that handwashing with soap plays in disease prevention and maintaining overall health. Every year, on the 15th of October, this event seeks to trigger global and local action to promote and enhance handwashing habits among individuals worldwide.

The initiative primarily focuses on underscoring the significance of cleanliness and providing ways for people to act on this basic health issue.

History of Global Handwashing Day

The genesis of Global Handwashing Day traces back to 2008, a year following its foundation by the Global Handwashing Partnership, initially known as the Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing. Shortly after, its annual observance was ratified by the United Nations General Assembly.

The motivation behind this day is to promote awareness regarding the critical role that washing hands with soap plays in maintaining public health. The founders recognized that hand hygiene is instrumental in preventing disease transmission and in reducing the rates of child mortality.

The inaugural Global Handwashing Day campaign targeted children and educational institutions. The visionary aim was to embed hand hygiene into health promotion programs within the schooling system.

Every year, the Global Handwashing Day centers around a specific theme relative to various aspects of hand hygiene. For instance, in 2011, the theme was “Clean Hands Save Lives”, drawing attention to the influence of hand hygiene on the survival of children. In 2022, the theme “Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene” resonated with the unifying significance of hand hygiene in reducing the spread of diseases.

Global Handwashing Day Timeline

First Handwashing Practices in Ancient Egypt

Egyptians used to wash hands before eating meals, according to texts found on papyrus scrolls, marking an early act of hand hygiene.

Ancient Greeks and Romans

The Greeks and Romans also recognized the importance of cleanliness for preventing disease.

Antibacterial Soap

Consumer demand for antibacterial soap started to increase, with such products becoming taken for granted for modern handwashing.

World Hand Hygiene Day

The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched 'World Hand Hygiene Day' on May 5 to promote hand hygiene in healthcare settings globally.

Raise a Hand for Hygiene

Worldwide, children were educated and inspired to 'raise a hand for hygiene', driving the importance of handwashing into young minds.

Clean Hands – A Recipe for Health

The focus for this year was 'Clean Hands – a recipe for health', linking hand hygiene to food hygiene and overall health.

Ideas to Celebrate Global Handwashing Day

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Handwashing Workshop

Plan a local community or school hand hygiene seminar. Enlist healthcare experts to disseminate knowledge regarding the vital role of hand cleanliness, proper handwashing methodologies, and appropriate instances requiring hand cleansing.

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Interactive Exhibition

Implement an engaging exhibition addressing cleanliness. It may include informative displays demonstrating the variety of harmful microorganisms present on our palms, the benefits of good hand hygiene, and much more.

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Community Outreach

Partner with local schools and NGOs to teach children the correlation between handwashing and prevention of diseases. Use stimulating games and practical examples to make the process enjoyable and easy to understand.

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Hygiene Care Package Distribution

Assemble hygiene care packets containing items like soap, hand sanitizer, wipes, and hand towels. Disperse these packets throughout your community, or donate them to educational or other conglomerates.

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Digital Campaign

Design a digital initiative to expand knowledge about hand hygiene. Motivate everyone to post a video or image of themselves washing hands using a specific campaign hashtag.

7 Interesting Facts About Handwashing


The Origins of Handwashing

Ignaz Semmelweis, a doctor from Hungary, was the first to identify the importance of washing hands back in the 1840s. Observing a high mortality rate among mothers in his maternity ward, he realized it was due to doctors transferring 'cadaverous particles' from the autopsy room to the delivery room without washing their hands in-between.


Handwashing Saves Lives

According to estimates by the World Health Organization, the simple act of washing hands can prevent millions of deaths worldwide, particularly due to diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea, especially in children below five years.


Not Just Soap and Water

Although cleaning hands with soap and water is crucial, it's the action of rubbing the hands together that plays a critical role in removing germs and bacteria.


The Five Steps of Handwashing

An effective method of handwashing includes five steps: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry. Each of these steps is pivotal in ensuring your hands are free from harmful germs and bacteria.


Longer Than You Think

A thorough handwashing routine should last around 20 seconds, approximately the duration to hum the 'Happy Birthday' song twice.


Surfaces Matter

Certain viruses and bacteria can survive on surfaces like tables, doorknobs, and desks for up to two hours or more. Regular handwashing can help reduce the spread of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes.


Gloves Are Not a Substitute

Merely wearing gloves doesn't replace the need for hand washing. Germs that gloves shield from can be readily transferred onto hands during glove removal.

Global Handwashing Day FAQs

Next Global Handwashing Day Dates

Year Date Day
2023 October 15th Sunday
2024 October 15th Tuesday
2025 October 15th Wednesday
2026 October 15th Thursday
2027 October 15th Friday
What is the pattern? Every October 15th

Global Handwashing Day Word Search

  • Handwashing
  • Hygiene
  • Cleanliness
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Prevention