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Handwashing Happenings

Get on Board to Promote Handwashing in the Fall

soapy handsThere's no doubt about it: thanks to the efforts over the past few years of many organizations, including the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI), more and more people have become aware of the important role that handwashing plays in disease prevention. But we still have a long way to go.

Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths worldwide. Yet, despite its lifesaving potential, in most parts of the world, handwashing with soap is seldom practiced and difficult to promote.

Each year in the United States, nearly 22 million school days are lost due to colds, and 38 million school days are lost due to the influenza virus. And in the U.S., where soap is plentiful, handwashing doesn't happen as often as it should. Educational programs and campaigns are an important component in spreading the word about the importance of handwashing

Clean Hands Week
International Clean Hands Week is the third week of September. Clean Hands Week was originated by the Clean Hands Coalition (, a unified alliance of public and private partners working together to create and support coordinated, sustained initiatives to significantly improve health and save lives through clean hands. The Coalition is facilitated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can help raise awareness of the value of clean hands by sharing the International Clean Hands Week poster with schools, doctors' offices and pharmacies in your community.

Back to School Clean Hands Webinar
In 2011, ACI hosted a free webinar with presentations from Vince Radke (CDC), Nancy Bock (ACI), Michele Samarya-Timm (Somerset County Health Department) and Kim Knoche (Forsyth High School – Forsyth, Montana).

This webinar was designed for FCCLA advisors, school nurses, teachers and others interested in promoting handwashing for a healthier community. The focus of the webinar is the importance of clean hands and how we can partner to improve student handwashing, reduce absenteeism and help the school community stay healthy. You will learn about the science of handwashing and the revised Healthy Schools, Healthy People, It’s a SNAP program. You will also hear from a teacher and health professional about how they worked with area schools and earned national recognition.

Click here to view the recording.

Global Handwashing Day
Global Handwashing Day, which is celebrated annually on October 15, is a campaign to motivate and mobilize people around the world to wash their hands with soap. The campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention.

EveryDayGlobalHandwashingDaySchoolGlobal Handwashing Day focuses on children because not only do they suffer disproportionately from diarrheal and respiratory diseases and deaths, but research shows that children – the segment of society so often the most energetic, enthusiastic and open to new ideas – can also be powerful agents for changing behaviors like handwashing with soap in their communities.

On Global Handwashing Day and the surrounding weeks, playgrounds, classrooms, community centers and towns and cities are encouraged to develop educational and awareness-raising activities.

To support activities that folks can do here in the United States, ACI has created two new Global Handwashing Day activity sheets and also has bookmarks, brochures and other handwashing education resources. Email to receive a free copy.

The website is a resource for ideas and tools, including downloadable "Global Handwashing Day Planner's Guide"; (available in five languages), poster and a children's game that teaches handwashing in a fun way. Be sure to go to the Global Handwashing Day Facebook page, Here you can share ideas and see what others are doing.

Healthy Schools, Healthy People, It's a SNAP
The Healthy Schools, Healthy People, It's a SNAP program is a joint handwashing initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ACI. This program seeks to improve hand-hygiene habits among students to help prevent the spread of infectious disease and reduce related absenteeism. This grassroots, education-based effort can help improve health by making hand-cleaning an integral part of the school day.

The Healthy Schools, Healthy People, It's a SNAP program includes the opportunity to receive national recognition for activities, projects or campaigns in your school that focus on clean-hands initiatives. The awards are open to all public/private K-12 schools in states, territories and tribes within the U.S. The project, activity or campaign must include handwashing messages about when to wash hands and the proper handwashing steps. The deadline to apply for national recognition is January 31.

For complete information, visit the website –

Share with ACI
If you are doing something to encourage handwashing in your community, at your school, at your place of business – or if you spot a clever campaign someone else has done – ACI would like to know about it. Visit us on Facebook ( and share pictures, videos and links with us.