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World Hand Hygiene Day – May 5, 2024

We are celebrating World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5. There are several deadly and dangerous diseases caused by microorganisms all around us. They are all trying to get inside us in one way or the other, which could easily happen through our hands. Hand hygiene is the best defense against such microbial attacks. Understanding this, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a campaign to spread the importance of hand hygiene in healthcare.

History of World Hand Hygiene Day

Lethal diseases have always plagued our world. Some scientists believe that one of the major mass extinction events could have been caused by microbes. We countermeasure one and suddenly another shows up. This has been going on since the beginning of our society. Bacteria and viruses have danced over our corpses for a long time until we discovered handwashing.

Many religious and cultural activities included handwashing. But we never made the connection between handwashing and disease spreading until 1846. Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian doctor who noted the link between hand hygiene and disease spreading. He noted that the women giving birth in his hospital’s maternity ward were more likely to die of fever compared to the adjacent ward. The adjacent maternity ward was run by midwives. Semmelweis found that the doctors visiting the maternity ward were often performing autopsies and probably carried cadaverous particles on their hands. Midwives did not conduct autopsies and had cleaner hands. When Semmelweis implemented handwashing with chlorine, the death toll drastically decreased. However, sadly, this method did not become popular in the medical community.

In 1980, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) realized the importance of handwashing when a string of foodborne outbreaks occurred. They started the handwashing practice. This time, everyone followed suit. In recent years, the use of soap for handwashing has gained absolute popularity. Soaps made the practice efficient and cost-effective.

World Hand Hygiene Day timeline

July 1, 1818
Ignaz Semmelweis is Born

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, a pioneer of antiseptic procedures, is born in the Kingdom of Hungary, the Austrian Empire.

First Connection

Semmelweis identifies the reason for death in the maternity ward and discovers the importance of hand hygiene.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale implements handwashing and other hygiene practices in the war hospital.


The United States C.D.C. identifies hand hygiene as an important way to prevent the spread of infections.

World Hand Hygiene Day FAQs

What are the three types of handwashing?

Social handwashing, antiseptic handwashing, and surgical handwashing are generally considered the three types of handwashing.

Why do we need to be clean?

Health and hygiene go hand-in-hand. It is important to reduce the spread of disease-causing microbes and, in turn, reduce diseases.

Which is better, hand sanitizer or handwashing?

Both are equally important. Washing hands with soap can help remove dirt and microbes. But sanitizers cannot remove dirt and other pollutants.

How to Observe World Hand Hygiene Day

  1. Buy a hand-washer

    Buy a hand-washer and, if possible, sponsor a few to your nearest N.G.Os working for hand hygiene. Any donation or sponsorship helps.

  2. Send messages

    Hand hygiene is important and we know it. But there will always be people who doubt everything. Send messages showcasing the importance of handwashing.

  3. Conduct classes

    Conduct classes for kids in your locale about hygiene. Make sure to advocate the importance of hand hygiene.

5 Facts About Hand Germs That You Should Know

  1. Life of a germ

    Germs in your hands can survive up to three hours and some of them even longer.

  2. Two million bacterias per fingertip

    Our fingertips will have more than two million bacterias and other microorganisms.

  3. Fastest reproducers

    A germ can reproduce so fast that it can double its population in a few minutes.

  4. Disease through hands

    Around 80% of disease-causing germs are transmitted through our hands.

  5. Superfast transmitters

    Our hands spread 1,000 times more germs when they are damp.

Why World Hand Hygiene Day is Important

  1. It’s a day for hygiene

    This is a day to spread the importance of hygiene to protect our health. See what you can do on this day to learn more about good hygiene.

  2. It’s good for awareness

    Information and awareness can change lives. Contribute to raising awareness about this important cause.

  3. It can improve health

    Concentrating on hygiene will result in an overall health improvement. We love being mindful of health!

World Hand Hygiene Day dates

2024May 5Sunday
2025May 5Monday
2026May 5Tuesday
2027May 5Wednesday
2028May 5Friday

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