World Hand Hygiene Day 2021: Seconds save lives – clean your hands


The global campaign "SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands," founded in 2009 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and held annually on May 5, which is World Hand Hygiene Day, draws attention to the importance of hand hygiene in medical and nursing facilities. The campaign actively contributes to infection prevention education. The date – May 5 – is symbolic of the five fingers of the human hand.

Chirurgische Händedesinfektion

For this year's World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, WHO is calling on healthcare workers and facilities to take effective hand hygiene measures at the point of care. The point of care plays a particularly important role in healthcare because it is where the three components of patient, healthcare worker and treatment come together, usually making it an infection critical setting. Thus, uncomplicated availability of hand disinfectants – within arm’s reach – is particularly important. This way, the care and treatment environment does not have to be left for hand disinfection.

Crucial success factors for successful hand disinfection are also the use of the disinfectant at the right moments and using the right technique. The WHEN and the HOW are therefore critical.


The WHO has summarized the situations in which patients are particularly exposed to the risk of contracting germs in five moments. By disinfecting your hands in these five moments, you can protect yourself and your patients.

  1. Before touching a patient
  2. Before clean/aseptic procedures
  3. After body fluid exposure risk
  4. After touching a patient
  5. After touching patient surroundings


For hygienic hand disinfection, at least 3ml of hand disinfectant should rubbed into clean and dry hands for 30 seconds. Make sure that the hands remain moist during the entire contact time. If necessary, apply more hand disinfectant. Pay particular attention to main contact points and pathogen reservoirs (such as fingertips, thumb and nail fold). To learn the technique or to refresh your knowledge, we recommend our video.

As a globally active company with over 130 years of experience in infection prevention and hygiene, active educational work for proper hand hygiene has a special relevance for schülke. Our mission to protect lifes worldwide is at the center of this and forms the basis of all our decisions. At schülke, every day is therefore dedicated to the issue of proper hygiene, and May 5 is no exception.

In the past, schülke has already raised awareness for proper hand hygiene internally as well as externally through campaigns and events. This year, the topic of hand hygiene has gained even more attention due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In our three-part news series, we provide insights from our experts and answers to your questions about hand disinfection.

Learn more about the right hand hygiene

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We are happy to provide helpful material for hand disinfection at the point of care for you to download free of charge:

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