Savings potential: Switch from scrub to rub

Get an overview on savings potentials when switching from scrubbing to rubbing for surgical hand preparation.

Scrubbing and rubbing in the OR

Surgical hand preparation prior to an operating procedure is an important aspect of surgical site infection prevention. While surgical hand preparation in the past meant intense scrubbing with antimicrobial soaps, modern guidelines often recommend the use of alcohol-based hand rubs. Here, hands are only washed before the first procedure of the day, or when hands are visibly soiled. For all other surgical hand preparation, the OR staff can resort to only alcohol-based hand rubs.

Switching to modern surgical hand preparation carries enormous savings potential:

Exemplary hospital:
Procedures per day: 10
Average staff per procedure: 3.25
Water temperature for scrubbing: 37 °C
Scrubbing Time: 6 min
Rubbing Time: 1.5 min


about 900 litres of water per day

That is enough water to grow more than 600 kg of strawberries per year.


about 2 workhours per day

In 2 hours Eliud Kipchoge can run a marathon.


more than 5,000 kWh/year

With 5,000 kWh you can toast more than 700,000 toasts.


about 1 Mio € per year

Enough money to buy more than 1,000 donuts per day.
If you want to know more or if you are interested in a more detailed analysis for your hospital, contact your local sales representative or the HARTMANN SCIENCE CENTER – please always include your contact details and the address of your hospital.
References for calculations:
Meengs MR et al. (1994) Hand washing frequency in an emergency department. Ann Emerg Med. 23:1307–1312.

Cimiotti JP et al. (2004) A cost comparison of hand hygiene regimens. Nurs Econ 22: 196-199.

Tavolacci MP et al. (2006) Surgical hand rubbing compared with surgical hand scrubbing: comparison of efficacy and costs. J Hosp Infect 63:55-59.
Ahmed A (2007) Surgical hand scrub: Lots of water wasted. Ann Afr Med 6:31-3

nahdran 01/07 (2007) Magazin der Aesculap AG & Co. KG und der BBD Aesculap GMBH

Jehle K et al. (2008) Clean and Green: Saving Water in the Operating Theatre. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 90: 22-24.

Troncoso D (2010), Estudio económico HU Príncipe de Asturias. Unpublished data at BODE Chemie GmbH

Fleischer W (2012) Dtsch Arztebl; 109(50):A-2555/B-2095/C-2047.

Waeschle RM et al., (2016) Die Anaesthesiologie 2/2016.

López Martín MB and Erice Calvo-Sotelo A (2017) Comparative study of presurgical hand hygiene with hydroalcoholic solution versus traditional presurgical hand hygiene. Enferm Clin. 27(4):222-226.

Fry DE (2019) Operating Room Hand Preparation: To Scrub or to Rub? Surg Infect (Larchmt) 20:129-134.

Javitt MJ et al. (2020) Association Between Eliminating Water From Surgical Hand Antisepsis at a Large Ophthalmic Surgical Hospital and Cost. JAMA Ophthalmol 138:382–386.

Guertler A et al. (2020) Onset of occupational hand eczema among healthcare workers during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: Comparing a single surgical site with a COVID-19 intensive care unit. Contact Dermatitis. 83(2):108-114.

Agudelo-Vera C et al. (2020) Drinking Water Temperature around the Globe: Understanding, Policies, Challenges and Opportunities. Water 12:1049.

Ragusa R et al. (2021) Has the COVID 19 Virus Changed Adherence to Hand Washing among Healthcare Workers? Behavioral Sciences. 11(4):53. (accessed 03.04.2023) (accessed 03.04.2023) (accessed 03.04.2023) (accessed 03.04.2023)

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