Global Handwashing Day is a day of awareness to remind us all that regular handwashing, with soap, will reduce the spread of diseases. 

Is handwashing with soap more beneficial than washing with water alone?

Yes! Handwashing with soap is substantially more effective at cleaning your hands than handwashing with water alone. Rinsing hands with water is preferable to not handwashing at all, but handwashing with soap is more effective in removing dirt and germs from hands.

A study in Bangladesh examined the effectiveness of handwashing with soap and water compared to rinsing hands with only water. The research found that while use of water alone does help reduce the risk of diarrhoea, use of soap is substantially more effective.

Are poor handwashing behaviours only a problem in developing countries?

No. Globally, less than a fifth of people currently wash their hands properly at critical times. Even in places where handwashing is a comparatively entrenched practice and both soap and water are plentiful, people often fail to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

Which diseases does handwashing with soap help to prevent?

Handwashing with soap helps prevent gastrointestinal diseases like diarrhoea; respiratory diseases like pneumonia and influenza; and other infections such as Ebola and healthcare-associated infections. Handwashing with soap may help prevent soil-transmitted helminth infections, which infect over 1.5 billion people. Further information about the significant role that handwashing plays in promoting health can be found on the About Handwashing page.

The global handwashing partnership contains interesting and useful facts to help children learn about why it is important to wash hands regularly.

Click here to find out more and access useful resources take into your classroom when supply teaching.

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