May 5, 2024

If everyone routinely washed their hands, 1 million deaths could be prevented worldwide each year

Clean Hands CountObserved each year on May 5, World Hand Hygiene Day highlights the importance of handwashing in preventing disease. Handwashing played a key role in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and remains a vital preventive measure. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is republishing this updated 2020 blog post with resources to inspire everyone to practice good #HandHygiene because clean hands help save lives.

Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself from many preventable diseases. But evidence suggests that most people do not know how to properly wash hands to leave germs behind.

To raise awareness about this easy, but important public health intervention, NFID developed an animated #WashYourHands public service announcement—available in English and in Spanish. The short videos describe the 5 key steps of proper handwashing: wet, lather, scrub well, rinse, and dry thoroughly. This video featuring NFID President Patricia (Patsy) A. Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP also illustrates the right (and wrong) way to wash your hands.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, which is roughly the amount of time it takes to hum the Happy Birthday song twice. If you prefer another tune, several media outlets including the Los Angeles Times and CNN have published hand-washing playlists featuring artists from Dolly Parton to Prince. And Wash Your Lyrics even allows you to generate handwashing infographics with the lyrics to your favorite songs.

Help spread the word by sharing these handwashing videos from NFID:

If everyone routinely and thoroughly washed their hands, an estimated 1 million deaths could be prevented worldwide each year.

Follow 5 steps to wash hands the right way: wet, lather, scrub well, rinse, and dryCDC has developed campaigns around campaigns around handwashing with resources including videos, graphics, and training materials for various audiences. Tools available include information about the science behind handwashing recommendations and a printable fact sheet, Handwashing: Keeping Your Family Healthy (available in multiple languages).  The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has also developed resources on hand hygiene, including a downloadable poster, When to Clean Your Hands.

Like staying up to date on recommended vaccines, hand hygiene is a key prevention tool that puts the power of prevention in our own hands! Share these resources and help spread the word … not disease.

To join the conversation and get the latest news on infectious diseases, follow NFID on X (Twitter) using the hashtag #WashYourHands, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, visit us on LinkedIn, listen and subscribe to the Infectious IDeas podcast, and subscribe to receive future NFID Updates.