Global Handwashing Day

washing hands under faucet

Each year on October 15, Global Handwashing Day is observed to highlight the importance of handwashing with soap at home, in the community, and around the world.

Global Handwashing Dayexternal icon serves as a yearly reminder that handwashing with soap is one of the best steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Established by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008, the observance aims to increase awareness and knowledge of the benefits of handwashing with soap.

Many germs that can make people sick are spread when we don’t wash our hands with soap and clean, running water. That is why handwashing is so important, especially during key times such as after using the bathroom, when preparing food, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

Handwashing in Communities

mom helps young child wash his hands at faucet

Handwashing with soap is not only simple and inexpensive, but it can also dramatically reduce the number of  young children who get sick. Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Handwashing education in the community can:

  • Reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by about 23-40%
  • Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57%
  • Reduce diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by about 58%
  • Reduce respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by about 16-21%

Get Involved

People and communities around the world celebrate Global Handwashing Day in many ways. CDC has developed materials to help you celebrate by:

  • Downloading resources from CDC’s national handwashing campaign, Life is Better with Clean Hands, to promote handwashing in your community.
  • Learning how to wash hands the right way with these video demonstrations.
  • Sharing on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other platforms to raise awareness about the importance of handwashing.
  • Helping promote Global Handwashing Day in your community with CDC resources and materials.
  • Ordering free handwashing posters to remind everyone to fight off germs by washing their hands.
Page last reviewed: October 3, 2019