Seconds save lives - Clean your hands! This is the slogan of the World Health Organization (WHO) for World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, which is celebrated every year on May 5.

The event underlines the importance of this simple but essential action for the prevention of infectious diseases, as the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, in our daily life and, as emphasised by WHO this year, in health care facilities.

Hand hygiene is, in fact, essential to tackle three major challenges for public health today:

  1. reduce the circulation of SARS-CoV-2
  2. prevent health care-associated infection (HAI)
  3. counteract the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance.

How to clean your hands

Proper hand hygiene prevents the transmission of the microorganisms responsible for many infectious diseases, from the most frequent such as the flu and colds, to more severe health care-related infections. In particular, during the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic emergency, hand hygiene is of crucial importance to prevent contagion by contact and the possible spread and transmission of the new coronavirus.

You can use ordinary soap to clean your hands. If there is no water available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
If you use soap, it is important to rub your hands with soap for at least 40-60 seconds.
If there is no soap available, use an alcohol-based formulation, rubbing the palm and back of the hands, fingers and nails for at least 20-30 seconds.
The hand sanitizers sold in shops to be used instead of soap and water (medical-surgical aids and approved microbicidal biocides) must be used on dry hands, otherwise they may not be effective. 

It is important to clean your hands:


  • taking drugs or giving drugs to others
  • touching eyes/nose/mouth (e.g. smoking, using contact lenses, brushing teeth, etc.)
  • eating.

Before and after

  • using the toilet
  • touching a sick person
  • treating or touching a wound
  • changing a baby's nappy
  • touching an animal
  • handling food, especially if it is raw.


  • you have been in public places (shop, clinic, station, gym, school, cinema, bus, office, etc.) and, in general, as soon as you get home
  • handling rubbish
  • handling money.

It is also a good habit to cough/sneeze in the crook of the elbow, to avoid contaminating your hands, which can be the vehicle of microorganisms by touching, for example, your mobile phone, a door handle, etc.

It is also recommended that you use a disposable tissue to blow your nose, possibly eco-friendly, then dispose of it in a waste bin and wash your hands immediately after use.

Read more on World Health Organization (WHO) web site 

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Data di pubblicazione: 5 maggio 2021, ultimo aggiornamento 6 maggio 2021