Using unclean water for handwashing is still effective for removing pathogens (see ‘Can I use greywater or water that is not clean for handwashing?’ for more information). Currently there are no studies about reusing handwashing water in the context of COVID-19 so it is difficult to assess the  risk it may pose. Currently we know that water is not a source of transmission for COVID-19 but that SARS-CoV-2 can persist in water for 2 days if untreated. Therefore we would recommend people err on the side of caution and that handwashing water is not reused at this time. It is not necessary to take any special measures to treat handwashing water, but chlorine has been shown to deactivate SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater

Want to know more about COVID-19 and handwashing? 

Editor's note

Author: Sian White
Review: Katie Greenland, Ammar Fawzi
Last update: 13.04.2020

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