Global Handwashing Day Highlights Need for Good Hand Hygiene

Washing hands with soap and water effectively prevents viruses and diseases.

October 12, 2023

Each year on October 15, Global Handwashing Day highlights how consistently washing hands with soap and water is an effective and affordable way to prevent viruses and diseases, and ultimately save lives. 

The special designation was initiated by the Global Handwashing Partnership, a coalition of international stakeholders working to promote handwashing with soap and recognize hygiene as a pillar of international development and public health. This year’s theme, Clean Hands Are in Reach, accentuates the important link between good handwashing practices and disease prevention. 

According to the organization, great strides have been made in hygiene commitment and action in the past few years, but globally, better access and more practice is needed to achieve hand hygiene for all.

In a press release, Bradley Corp., an international manufacturer of commercial restroom fixtures, asserts that less than a fifth of people worldwide currently wash their hands at critical times. Even in areas where handwashing is an established practice—and soap and water are accessible—people still fail to wash their hands often enough.

As for school-aged children, Bradley states that more than a million children globally die each year due to diarrhea but handwashing with soap could prevent two-thirds of those deaths. Further, children lose 443 million school days each year because of water-related illnesses. Without handwashing facilities in schools, children are more susceptible to illness and less able to learn, grow, and thrive. 

Medical experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) agree that developing a habit of consistent and thorough handwashing with soap and water is the best prevention of cold and flu germs and the spread of other contagious illnesses seen around the globe, like diarrhea and pneumonia.

Earlier this year, Bradley released its annual Healthy Handwashing Survey, which revealed that 93% of adults believe handwashing is essential to maintaining their overall health and 75% wash their hands more diligently during flu and virus outbreaks. However, Americans’ handwashing activity, according to the survey, has dropped 30% over the past three years returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, and there has also been an increase in people taking handwashing shortcuts. In fact, 45% admit to just rinsing with water and skipping soap.

“The aim of our survey is to keep the health benefits of handwashing with soap top-of-mind, especially as we head into cold and flu season. Celebrating Global Handwashing Day is a natural outgrowth of that mission,” said Jon Dommisse, Bradley vice president of marketing and strategy. “Connecting handwashing with our daily habits or rituals is an effective way to form good handwashing practices.”

Dommise further added that Global Handwashing Day is a good reminder of how businesses and facilities can support healthy handwashing by providing clean, well-stocked, and maintained restrooms.

To learn more about Bradley’s Healthy Handwashing Survey’s results, check out 2023 Survey Finds Americans Vastly Value Handwashing for Health.

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