Yes, water for handwashing does not have to be as clean as water for drinking. Studies have shown that if you wash your hands with soap and relatively highly contaminated water, your hands will still be left clean. This shows just how effective soap is at removing pathogens from hands (see ‘Why does handwashing with soap work so well to prevent COVID-19?’ for more information). So if water is scarce where you work, you may be able to convince people to keep the water they use for laundry, for example, and store this for handwashing use. However it’s important to note that in many places reusing water like this is not considered to be culturally acceptable, particularly if water is soapy.
Want to know more about COVID-19 and handwashing?
- Why does handwashing with soap work so well to prevent COVID-19?
- Can ash be used for handwashing?
- Are some types of soap more effective than others?
- Should we be promoting handwashing with chlorinated water?
- What can we do where soap is scarce?
- Can soapy water be used?
- Is alcohol-based hand rub better than soap?
- Should we be promoting handwashing at different times during the COVID-19 outbreak?
- What can we do in areas with real water scarcity?
- Is it safe for people to share handwashing water?
- Do public handwashing facilities pose a risk?
- Can bar soap spread COVID-19?
- What kinds of handwashing facilities should we construct?
- How should hands be dried?