Today is Global Handwashing Day – 15 October 2018

This is what the official website tells us –

A global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap, as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times. (1)

Global Handwashing Day is designed to:

  • Foster and support a global and local culture of handwashing with soap
  • Shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing around the world
  • Raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap

2008 – First Global Handwashing Day

120 million children washed their hands in over 70 countries

Community and national leaders have since used Global Handwashing Day to spread the word about handwashing, build sinks and tippy taps, to demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands.

200 million people each year are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries

Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, NGOs, private companies and individuals.

2018 Global Handwashing Day theme

Clean Hands – a recipe for health

The focus is on links between handwashing and food, including food hygiene and nutrition.

Handwashing at critical times, especially before cooking, eating or feeding others is one of the most important ways to keep food clean and safe, prevent diseases and help children grow strong.

Connecting handwashing to an existing habit, like a meal is a great way to form proper handwashing habits.

This year’s theme reminds us to make handwashing a part of every meal (2)

Handwashing Saves Lives

Although people around the world clean their hands with water, few use soap to wash their hands because it is less accessible in developing countries.

Even if soap is available, it might be reserved primarily for laundry and bathing instead of handwashing.

Handwashing is simple and inexpensive. It can cut the number of young children who get sick because washing hands with soap reduces illness and the spread of germs much more effectively than water alone.

1.4 million children under age 5 die from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia

Handwashing with soap could prevent 1 in 10 episodes of diarrheal illnesses

Twitter      #handwashingday

Dear World

What if we as individuals made a Commitment and put Focus and effort into ensuring we take great care when washing our hands

What if we use the following handout taken from the Simple Living Global – Back to Basics Program and made it part of our Foundation, so it becomes our normal standard – no big deal

The key is to practice being present when you do this simple task

This means make sure your mind is – focused on the job in hand

Check you have some soap ready to use near the sink

Have a towel or tissue paper nearby for drying your hands

Stand in front of the sink and adjust your feet to feel stable

Relax your shoulders and just breathe deeply if you feel tension

Check and be sure you are feeling balanced and steady

No rushing please

Pull up your sleeves gently, using your fingertips

Place your fingertips now on the tap and turn on

Check the water temperature and rinse both hands

Turn tap off Gently

Take the soap and put your attention on what you are doing

If your mind wanders off – bring it back to focus on the task

Lather up by rubbing both hands together

Using thumb and middle finger, do circles on each wrist

Using your knuckles, anti-clockwise small circles in each palm

Slip your fingers up and down, in between the fingers of other hand

Make a ball with nails inside the palm – do anticlockwise circles

Using palm, anti-clockwise oval circles on tops of hand and fingers

Time to rinse off soap – turn tap on gently

Using fingertips and moving the hands, rinse away

Shake both your hands to remove excess water

Turn the tap off gently, using thumb and fingertips

Run the middle fingers gently across the wrist

Feel the connection as you repeat this last bit

Take the towel or paper tissue and dab on hands

No need to be hard or rough with this movement

Place the towel back on the rail or dispose tissue

Job done

This handwashing business should take less than a minute – no big deal

Skipping this basic hygiene task is not recommended – ever

Always wash your hands after going to the Toilet

Make washing your hands a part of your self-care routine –

Before you prepare or cook food

Before eating
Before bedtime

After work
After school
After cleaning
After exercise
After travelling

Anytime they feel dirty

The key is to practice being consciously present – this means your mind is with you when your body is carrying out the task

Keep it Simple


This publication is ©Copyright and the Moral Rights of the Author, Bina Pattel and Simple Living Global are asserted.
Other than for the purposes of and subject to the conditions prescribed under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended, no part of this work may in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, microcopying, photocopying, recording or otherwise) be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted without prior written permission.
Inquiries should be addressed to Simple Living Global – info@simplelivingglobal.com.





(1) (n.d). Global Handwashing Day. www.globalhandwashing.org. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from

(2) (n.d). ABOUT Global Handwashing Day. www.globalhandwashing.org. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from





Comments 9

  1. Thank you for posting this Simple Living Global. I love the way that you cover what is happening in the world with these World Days, as what you write is very educational.

    I had never contemplated that some have no access to soap.

    I take washing my hands with soap for granted and so had no cause to ever question this and understand that using soap prevents the spread of diseases.

    Your handout, also on handwashing is phenomenal as I have never come across anyone share in detail how we can wash our hands.

    Thoughts come to mind of school children.

    Gosh what if there were lessons on how to wash our hands at school like this?
    Lessons where we learn to be present with what we are doing and getting to feel and know the different parts of our hands, like the palms, fingers and the fingertips and then the wrists.

    Would that make a difference to the way children are in school and also the way that teachers are with them, if they are washing their hands in this way also?

    I know that as an adult, it is very encouraging to know that there is a way that I can wash my hands that will bring about a deeper quality, rather than approaching it as just a task that needs to be done. I feel a great sense of care when I read the handout and this is what I am referring to when I say ‘a deeper quality’.

  2. It is great to read about another important and often overlooked subject, carefully covered here.

    It has given me pause to consider all the people in the world without access to soap. No wonder illness rates and hand washing are so connected. It really does bring your appreciation up.

    The last few times I have been swimming at the local pool, there has been no soap in the ladies’ changing room. I have reported this each time and they assure that they are on it. Yet it does not get addressed.

    For me this shows soap is simply not considered a priority. I suspect this is because the people in charge do not value it and do not consider the knock on affect of the lack of soap. If they did, it would be a 911, non-negotiable.

  3. I went on a teaching course where we each had to do a presentation.

    One man who worked in mental health talked about hand washing and it was there I first learned that people are shown how to wash their hands.

    He said its all theory and not really practiced and even those who teach it are not consistent in this simple daily hygiene task.

    I was inspired to bring this into my workplace at the time and it made me realise that Back to Basics everyday stuff is actually needed and people would benefit if we educated them.

    In other words, offer a template as this blog does and then they can get on with it and add it to their daily medicine bag.

    Let’s get real, anything that helps and supports us has to be medicine.
    Handwashing is certainly one of them.

  4. I have heard of kids being taught to sing the ‘happy birthday’ song to themselves while they wash their hands.

    This is to encourage them to wash their hands for long enough.

    My kids heard about this and tried it for a while. It caused them to do the job in distraction.

    They stopped focusing on the details and focused instead on the song. And the song got stuck in their head for the day.

    Focusing on the details is much more effective and the process simply takes as long as the process needs to take, until it is finished.

    I particularly appreciate the details part of this blog. Making sure everything is ready before starting. The use of the knuckles. How to bring in the nails, with care. Gentle but diligent focus. Shaking off the water before drying.

    It would be great to see posters of this amazing ‘how to’ in school bathrooms across the land.

  5. Daily Mail – 7 April 2018

    This article investigates the amount of germs we actually pick up with our hands in different places.

    The article opens with a comment about a celebrity who has resorted to wearing gloves at every opportunity to avoid germs. The celeb blamed the handshaking and cheek kissing culture for catching the flu.

    It goes on to say that some celebrities and politicians use hand sanitiser after shaking hands. British athletes were also advised not to shake hands during the 2012 Olympics for fear they would be struck down by an illness.

    Val Edwards-Jones, professor of medical microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University and clinical director at Melbec Microbiology said –

    ‘In ideal conditions a bacteria will double its numbers every 20 minutes so, within 4 to 6 hours you could be talking about more than a million bacterial cells. Within 24 hours, that could be billions. This is what we call a colony-forming unit, or CFU. The more harmful CFUs you have on your skin, the higher the risk that they will get into your nose or mouth and make you ill….’

    What was interesting in reading the article was that handshaking caused very little transfers of bacteria, with just 48 CFUs.

    However travelling on public transport – touching tube grab rails and stair bannisters – 8,000 CFUs were found and 4 types of bacteria including one the lab suspected of being of faecal origin.

    Professor Edwards Jones said that ‘if you did not wash your hands before eating, this could make you very ill’.

    The University of Arizona discovered if a virus contaminates an office handle, within 4 hours between 40 to 60% of surfaces such as lights switches, taps and coffee pot handles will be contaminated too. But it found regular hand washing could reduce this spread by 80 to 99%.

    From a toilet the investigator picked up 250 CFUs.

    110 CFUs and 3 types of bacteria from using hand dryers.

    1 million CFUs after dog walking and 4 types of bacteria. Some were suspected of being of faecal origin.

    1,000 CFUs and 5 types of bacteria from a supermarket.

    440 CFUs and 3 species of bacteria from counting money.

    I found reading this article very interesting and along with this blog by Simple Living Global, it really brings to the fore the importance of this topic, which is very often overlooked.

    Washing our hands after doing anything is a super important way that we can all take responsibility in preventing the spread of diseases.

    1. ‘Colony-forming units’ – wow Shevon, I didn’t know about this.

      It makes sense what you write and it is interesting to learn about this CFU measurement.

      It certainly does make you consider how we are each contributing to the spread (or not) of bacteria and viruses as we go about our everyday lives.

      Skipping a wash has an impact, even if you ‘think’ your hands are clean.

  6. Since reading this blog I have become aware that the quality of my handwahsing is inconsistent.

    Sometimes I rush the process. I realise this is usually in public toilets when I want to get out of there fast. But it is also when I am not fully present with what I am doing, e.g. when I am thinking ahead to a task that needs to be done.

    Hand washing for me is a great moment to ‘check in’ with myself and I have used it as that for some years now.

    It is a task that needs doing repeatedly throughout the day, so why not use it as a micro pause moment? Why not bring my movements into sharp focus and see where I’m at?

    Especially on busy days, when I check in like this while I’m washing my hands, I find it arrests the momentum that can build up. I have found it helps me stay steady throughout the day and I arrive in the evening less tired.

    Realising I am not consistent in the quality each time means there is yet more to maximise in these hand washing ‘check ins’. So thank you Simple Living Global.

  7. One thing I don’t like about hand washing is soap that strips the skin on your hands. I dislike that dry feeling intensely.

    I realise this influences how long I wash my hands for and the quality in which I do it.

    On the weekends, I tend to carry a smaller handbag, as I’m travelling light with children. Writing this, I am seeing that not travelling with handcream on those small-handbag days is a compromise I am no longer prepared to make.

  8. Thank you Simple Living Global for showing us how we can take an everyday non-attention filled activity and give it a bucket load of purpose.

    Of course, we all know the hygiene aspects of knowing we should wash our hands, especially after using the toilet – although it is my experience of observing many people who do not wash their hands after using the toilet – but to take it to the level of detail you have shown here brings on another dimension to this generally considered mundane task.

    I have observed my wife washing her hands many times during the day, especially if she has come away from the computer and has handled something else, she will always wash her hands before she goes back on to the computer.

    I always thought this was overkill but after having read this blog, I can see why she does it.

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