The Importance of Proper Handwashing

Handwashing education by Clean the World Asia

Written by Alora Stickley, Summer Intern 2018.

Hong Kong is currently in its summer flu season and leading hotels in some major Asian cities are doing their part to combat illness by supporting the efforts of Clean the World Asia. Their generous donations of used soap are helping to fight the flu virus at its root…our own hands! So, if you’re hoping to stay healthy, look no further than your bar of soap!

It is unavoidable to pick up germs as you go through your day, and the abundance of sweat glands on your palms and backs of your hands create an environment that fosters growth of bacterial colonies. With the copious amounts of bacteria, it is necessary to practice a correct handwashing technique. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) people should spend 20 seconds on carefully scrubbing their hands including under the fingernails. However, a university study found that only 5% of people wash their hands with the proper technique and duration. Failure to wash hands properly leads to the transmission of diarrheal and respiratory illnesses, two of the top killers of children under the age of 5.  The simple act of washing our hands can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections.  

Clean the World is currently working to meet 8 different United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Among these, 4 can easily be achieved with proper hand washing practices. These are:
* Goal 1: No Poverty
* Goal 3: Good Health & Well Being
* Goal 4: Quality Education
* Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth   

Practicing proper handwashing can reduce your chances of becoming ill. According to SDG article “WASH and poverty”, it is estimated that meeting their target on water and sanitation “would save 3.2 billion working days and 443 million school days annually.”  Less time spent sick means that children can stay in school and complete their education. It also means that adults would be out sick less often allowing them to increase their economic participation and improve earned income to combat poverty.

The tools to transform the world have been found in clean water and soap. Through CTWs partnerships with hotels we can effectively recycle soap and work with charities to ensure that all people have equal access to the materials they need to change their lives.  

1. Borchgrevink, Carl, and Andy Henion. “Eww! Only 5 Percent Wash Hands Correctly.” MSUToday. June 10, 2013. Accessed August 02, 2018.
2. “Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 18, 2015. Accessed August 02, 2018.
3. “Sustainable Development Goals.” United Nations. Accessed August 02, 2018.
4. “United Nations Millennium Development Goals.” United Nations. Accessed August 02, 2018.