Global Handwashing Day




Celebrate Global Handwashing Day by supporting the 2013 Water for the World Act, which will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. foreign aid committed to global water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) by ensuring that funds reach populations in most need for WASH interventions. Support this legislation and help save lives through the simple act of handwashing with soap!

Soap Facts:

  • Simple Handwashing with soap can save a million lives per year.1
  • Handwashing with soap can reduce the risk of diarrheal diseases by approximately 50%2
  • Mothers who wash their hands with soap can reduce the risk of newborn death by 44%3
  • Handwashing with soap can reduce the number of pneumonia-related infections in children under the age of five by 50%4
  • Providing soap in schools can reduce school absenteeism due to diarrhea by 30 percent5
  • Handwashing with soap is the single most effective and inexpensive WASH intervention for preventing diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, accounting for 3.5 million child deaths annually6


  1. According to a Lancet article, Curtis and Cairncross estimated that handwashing with soap alone was able to prevent 0.5 – 1.4 million deaths per year. Source: Curtis, V and Cairncross, S. (2003): Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review. The Lancet infectious diseases, 3, 275-281. Retrieved from
  2. Curtis V. & Cairncross, S. (2003). Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review. Lancet Infectious Diseases 3(5):275-81 Retrieved from
  3. Rhee, V. et al. (2009). Impact of Maternal and Birth Attendant Hand-washing on Neonatal Mortality in Southern Nepal. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 162(7): 603–608. Retrieved from
  4. Luby, S. et al.  (2004) The effect of handwashing on child health: A randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 366(9481): 225-33. Retrieved from
  5. Talaat M, Afifi S, & El-Sayed N (2013) Effects of hand hygiene campaigns on incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza and absenteeism in school children, Cairo, Egypt. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 17(4), 619-625. Retrieved from
  6. Cairncross, S. and Valdmanis V. (2006) Chapter 41: Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Promotion. In  D.T. Jamison, J.G. Breman, A.R. Measham, et al. (Editors), Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, 2nd edition (771-792). Washington (DC): World Bank.


Click here to view our new resource: WASH Your Hands Before You Eat: A curriculum for celebrating Global Handwashing Day (October 15) and World Food Day (October 16)

Global Handwashing Day, held annually on October 15, is a worldwide celebration of handwashing with soap that aims to: foster and support a global and local culture of handwashing with soap; shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in each country; and raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap.

The theme for Global Handwashing Day 2013 is: The power is in your hands.

This theme emphasizes that:

  1. Everyone can improve their own health by washing hands with soap, especially after using the restroom and before touching food.
  2. Teachers, parents, health care professionals and others can improve the health of children and adults in their communities by promoting handwashing with soap at critical times.
  3. Governments, not-for-profit organizations, the private sector, and donors can promote and invest in handwashing programs to improve health on a large scale.

The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW) is a partnership of 10 public and private organizations championing handwashing with soap globally. The PPPHW partners created Global Handwashing Day in 2008 and currently hosts a library of resources for organizations to use in planning and promoting their Global Handwashing Day initiatives. Let the world know how you are celebrating! Upload your event here.

The official Global Handwashing Day hashtag is #iwashmyhands. Be sure to follow @HandwashingSoap for the latest updates!

Global Handwashing Day!

Photo Credit: Plan Haiti

Some suggested Tweets:

This Global Handwashing Day, the power to reduce disease is in your hands. What will you do with it? #iwashmyhands

Did you wash your hands before eating lunch today? October 15 is Global Handwashing Day #iwashmyhands

Global Handwashing Day is October 15! Celebrate with over 1 billion people around the world #iwashmyhands

Have you ever seen someone leave the bathroom without washing their hands with soap? #gross #iwashmyhands

#iwashmyhands because it is one of the most cost-effective way to prevent diseases

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