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Celebrate Global Handwashing Day with Hand Hygiene Education

Washing your hands properly is the most effective way of preventing illness and the spreading of germs. October 15th, Global Handwashing Day, is all about educating others on the importance of handwashing and promoting good hand hygiene amongst your team. In this blog post we go over exactly what Global Handwashing Day is, the history of Global Handwashing Day, and how you can start celebrating this day on October 15th with your team! 

To help you educate your team on the importance of good hand hygiene we’ve put together a handwashing kit full of fun activities and educational tools to promote good hand hygiene amongst your team - You can download it here! 


What is Global Handwashing Day?

On October 15, 2008, the Global Handwashing Partnership held the first annual Global Handwashing Day as part of World Water Week in Stockholm. That day, over 120 million children from over 70 countries around the world washed their hands with soap and water. Since then, the movement has seen governments, schools, NGOs, companies and institutions use this day to raise awareness about the benefits of clean hands.

Did you know?


Each year Global Handwashing Day has a specific theme - In 2020 the theme is “Hand Hygiene for All.” In 2019, the theme was Clean Hands for All; in 2015, Raise a Hand for Hygiene; in 2012, I Am a Handwashing Advocate. One of the most unique events that took place during previous years was the world record set in 2014, that day nearly 1.3 million people in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh washed their hands on the same day.


Why is Global Handwashing Day Important?

Handwashing first became recognized as a method of preventing illness back in 1846, when the Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis noticed something unusual. There were two adjacent maternity wards, one run by midwives and the other by doctors. The women who gave birth in the midwife ward were far less likely to develop fever and die. He realized that the doctors often performed autopsies and surgeries directly before attending their maternity ward. Assuming that “cadaverous particles” were to blame, he encouraged doctors to wash their hands. The reduction in infection was immediate and dramatic.

The simple and inexpensive act of washing hands with soap and water has been proven to reduce the number of people who become ill from various pathogens. According to the CDC, handwashing reduces instances of respiratory illnesses by up to 21%, an important statistic in the age of COVID-19. Other benefits include reduced diarrheal infections by up to 40% and lowered school absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness by 29%-57%.

Despite this knowledge, handwashing did not become popular in the United States until a rash of foodborne illnesses swept the nation in the 1980s. Today, due especially to the recent interest in preventing COVID-19, the effectiveness of handwashing is well known. However, getting everyone to participate is still a challenge. Globally, more than 60% of health care workers do not practice hand hygiene and less than 20% of individuals wash their hands after toilet use. To promote better hand hygiene, the Global Handwashing Partnership actively educates people around the world about the importance of using soap and water.

How do you celebrate Global Handwashing Day?

On October 15th it’s important to dedicate some time to increasing awareness and educating your team on the importance of handwashing. Help your team understand the “why” behind good hand hygiene and why it is important for your industry. We’ve created a whole Global Handwashing Day toolkit to help filled with tons of resources, including some for specific industries such as: 

Food Processing

For food processing, good handwashing behaviors have always been a life or death situation. The threat of pathogens have always existed and handwashing has always been a cornerstone of hygiene SOPs. 

Global Handwashing Day, is a great day to host a safety day. In our handwashing toolkit we have a safety day guide and fun games like hygiene bingo to help you engage, educate and reinforce good hand hygiene practices with your team. 

Healthcare & Medical

5momentshandhygienefeatHospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) are common in healthcare settings, and handwashing is the best way to prevent these from occuring. In our Global Handwashing Day toolkit, we have posters to remind healthcare workers of the 5 moments of hand hygiene and an activity where healhcare workers can take to share why they wash their hands. 

Education & Childcare


October 15th is a great time to go over the proper handwashing steps with your students! In our Global Handwashing Day toolkit, we have tons of fun handwashing activities, free downloadable handwashing posters for kids and more! 

In our recent webinar, “Become a Handwashing Superhero” we go over everything education and childcare teachers need to know about handwashing in schools, potential pitfalls and how to overcome these - Check it out here! 


Washing your hands properly is the most effective way of preventing illness and the spreading of germs. On October 15th, Global Handwashing Day, dedicate time to increasing awareness and educating others on the importance of handwashing. To help, we want to give you all the tools you'll need to educate your team on the proper handwashing steps and promote good hand hygiene behaviors. Start by downloading the handwashing day toolkit here or explore our hygiene education services!


Topics:Hand Hygiene Resources