Global Handwashing Day
Global Handwashing Day is a way to 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.1 It has been celebrated on October 15 worldwide each year since 2008 by school children, teachers, families, and others, and was established by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing.
Handwashing Saves Lives
About 2.2 million children5 under the age of 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two killers of young children around the world.2 Handwashing is not only simple and inexpensive, but remarkably, handwashing with soap can dramatically cut the number of young children who get sick. Handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea3 and almost 1 out of 6 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia4. Although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. Washing hands with soap removes germs much more effectively5.
Celebrate Global Handwashing Day
People and communities around the world will celebrate Global Handwashing day in many ways, including:
- Guinness Book of World Records attempt for the largest number of people washing their hands at the same time
- Golden Poo video awards in the UK
- Handwashing lessons, events, and materials for more than 70,000 students in more than 100 schools across Georgia, where CDC is based.
You can celebrate Global Handwashing Day in these ways:
- Organize or participate in a Global Handwashing Day event in your school or community.
- Celebrate virtually on Twitter and Facebook. Look for and use the hashtag #iwashmyhands.
- Play the World Wash Up game.
- Make sure you and your family know when and how to wash your hands properly.
Global Handwashing Day
CDC's Handwashing Work
- New! Hygiene-related Posters
- Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
- Water-related Hygiene
- Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
- Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings
- Hand Hygiene to Help Prevent Flu
- Hand Hygiene During an Emergency
- Hand Hygiene Aboard Ships
Handwashing Partnerships and Campaigns
- Liu L, Johnson HL, Cousens S, Perin J, Scott S, Lawn JE, Rudan I, Campbell H, Cibulskis R, Li M, Mathers C, Black RE; Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group of WHO and UNICEF. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality: an updated systematic analysis for 2010 with time trends since 2000. Lancet. 2012 Jun 9;379(9832):2151-61.
- Ejemot RI, Ehiri JE, Meremikwu MM, Critchley JA. Hand washing for preventing diarrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD004265.
- Rabie T and Curtis V. Handwashing and risk of respiratory infections: a quantitative systematic review. Trop Med Int Health. 2006 Mar;11(3):258-67.
- Burton M, Cobb E, Donachie P, Judah G, Curtis V, Schmidt WP. The effect of handwashing with water or soap on bacterial contamination of hands. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 Jan;8(1):97-104.
Get email updates
To receive email updates about this page, enter your email address:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC-INFO