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?
- 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?
- Can I use greywater or water that is not clean for handwashing?
- 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?