5 May 2022 is World Hand Hygiene Day

Unite for safety: clean your hands – Together for more safety with good hand hygiene!

Every year on 5 May – a symbol for the five fingers our hands – the World Health Organisation (WHO) reminds everyone of the importance of hand hygiene and calls on all people in contact with the health sector to join in. This year, the motto is “Unite for safety: clean your hands”. More than ever, WHO is calling for workers across all levels to join forces and create a culture that values hand hygiene and infection prevention.

Strong together against germs

Less than 200 years ago, the majority of experts still believed that diseases spread via so-called miasmas. Hygienists like Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur initially fell on deaf ears with their findings on the transmission of diseases like cholera and tuberculosis [1]. Today, hardly anyone would dare deny the existence of germs. It has long been clear that bacteria, viruses and other pathogens can be dangerous to us – sometimes more, sometimes less. Hands play an essential role in their spread!

Germs – #UniteForSafety – #StrongTogetherAgainstGerms

The fact that germs such as bacteria and viruses can cause diseases was only credibly demonstrated at the end of the 19th century by Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur. Before that, harmful vapours from the soil ("miasmas") were assumed to be the cause [1].

Ignaz Semmelweis noticed as early as 1845 that hands play a major role in the transmission of diseases and was able to halve maternal mortality in Viennese hospitals by implementing hand washing [1].

Learn more about bacteria, viruses and fungi and their modes of transmission here.

Hand hygiene remains one of the most important measures in the fight against infections

Our hands enable us to come into contact with our environment. They treat, care for and promote healing, but they also come into contact with a wide variety of pathogens and can thus transmit infections. That is why hand hygiene is an indispensable part of infection prevention in health care facilities – and one of the most important building blocks of all in the fight against germs!

Hand hygiene – #UniteForSafety – #StrongTogetherAgainstGerms

Hand hygiene includes hand washing, hand disinfection and skin care. While the first two measures remove contaminations or render germs harmless, the latter maintains the natural skin barrier.


  • Adequate hand hygiene prevents up to 50% of preventable nosocomial infections [2].
  • Globally, 1 in 4 health facilities lacks a basic water supply - affecting the health care of 1.8 billion people [2].
  • Even in high-income countries, hand hygiene compliance rarely exceeds 70% [2].
  • In Europe, 8.9 million nosocomial infections occur annually in acute and long-term care facilities [2].

In healthcare

As clean hands save lives, additional efforts to improve hand hygiene in healthcare facilities are urgently needed. The "5 Moments of Hand Hygiene" show when clean hands are essential [3]. Posters on this and on hygienic and surgical hand disinfection can be found here.

In private

The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear how important good hand hygiene is in private life as well. Soap and water are often sufficient, but in certain situations you should use disinfectants. Find out when here!

It all depends on the proper hand disinfectant

Hand disinfection is firmly established in the professional sector to adequately remove germs from hands. But it is also playing an increasingly important role in private life. To ensure that it is actually effective, the spectrum of activity and the ingredients must be taken into account.

The proper hand disinfectant – #UniteForSafety – #StrongTogetherAgainstGerms

Not all hand disinfectants are the same. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important the right spectrum of activity is. A good hand disinfectant is BOTH reliably effective against the respective pathogens (e.g. SARS-CoV-2, noroviruses) AND gentle on the skin.

The development of Sterillium® in the 1960s showed that alcohol is the only sufficiently effective substance for hand disinfection. To ensure good skin compatibility, it was diluted and refatting agents were added. For good efficacy, however, the alcohol content must not be too low. Learn more about hand disinfectants and virus efficacy here!

Promote a climate characterised by safety and quality with good hand hygiene

Good hand hygiene with the right hand products not only ensures clean hands, but also creates organisational climate in which value is placed on safety and infection prevention. This can only be achieved by working together. This is why this year’s World Hand Hygiene Day’s motto is Unite for safety – clean your hands! By practising good hand hygiene ourselves, we also set an example for others. In this way, we set in motion a chain reaction AGAINST chains of infection. The more people who work together for this goal, the better.

World Hand Hygiene Day 2022 – #UniteForSafety – #StrongTogetherAgainstGerms

It is well established that hand hygiene – especially hand disinfection – is one of the most important measures to break chains of infection and thus save lives. To recognise the importance of clean hands in health care facilities, WHO launched World Hand Hygiene Day in 2009. The date, 5 May, which represents the five fingers in a hand, was chosen. This year’s motto “Unite for safety: clean your hands” is intended to raise awareness that practising hand hygiene and infection prevention contributes to a culture of safety and quality in health care. Therefore, it is worthwhile to work on the common goal across all levels.

Learn more about the WHO campaign here!

With MISSION: INFECTION PREVENTION, HARTMANN is also committed to a climate in which hand hygiene and infection prevention are valued and actively implemented. Learn more here.

Join us and help to create an organisational climate in which hand hygiene and infection prevention are lived as essential components today and in the future! Join in: Strong together against germs!

Learn our 5 hand hygiene reminders

# 1:

# 2:

# 3:

# 4:

# 5:

Read the entire interview with our experts: Hand hygiene: more than just disinfection. Washing, care, and gloves – they play a big part, too

Share your commitment

Feel free to spread our stickers, to hang up our linked posters on this site, share your knowledge, as well as celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day in your facilities and on social media.

You are also welcome to use our selfie board: download it, write your name/wishes/motto/reminders etc. on it, take a pic while holding it into the camera and upload your selfie to your own social media channels hashtagged #HandHygiene #UniteForSafety #TogetherStrongAgainstGerms #MissionInfectionPrevention and mentioned @WHO. And maybe, the WHO upload platform will be ready for your selfie upload again this year on https://5may.cleanhandssavelives.org/.

Test your knowledge

Do you know everything on “Hand washing vs. hand disinfection at home” and “Wearing gloves: when is necessary, when not”? Test your knowledge right here.

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