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Set up Handwashing Stations by Your Doors

My father was an industrial chemist, and I used to work in a hospital.

The Importance of Handwashing, and Why You Should Want Handwashing Stations

Pandemics are going to become only more common as we intrude upon open habitat and come into contact with more wild creatures. Something an infected wild creature touches that a person touches can allow them to contract a disease, and an infected person who touches something you later touch can then infect you. A person doesn't have to show symptoms to pass on a disease; they can be in the earliest stages and don't show symptoms yet, or they can be a carrier and never show symptoms and never know they have the disease. For that reason, we have to be proactive in protecting ourselves and others, because you don't know if you are a carrier or in the earliest stages of a disease.

So right now, we have to get into the habit of making sure that we don't pass on an infection to someone else. However, sometimes it's not convenient or desirable to go to the kitchen or bathroom to wash your hands, (maybe your bathroom or kitchen is occupied, or a mess and you don't want others to see it). One of the simplest things we can do to protect ourselves in that case is to set up a handwashing station right by every door that you use to enter or leave your home, and have everyone use it every time they enter or leave the house. This way we can make this into an everyday habit, and avoid spreading infections (and we're less likely to get infected ourselves).

A pitcher and washbowl, the idea for this article.

A pitcher and washbowl, the idea for this article.

How to Set Up Your Handwashing Station

You will need:

  • small carafe or pitcher
  • bowl
  • soap
  • rubbing alcohol
  • paper towels
  • moisturizer
  • tray

This doesn't have to be expensive. All of these items can be purchased at a dollar store, so for whatever you don't have handy, you're looking at a minimal outlay, and even the dollar stores have attractive items for sale.

Place all items on the tray. Each morning, fill the carafe with water. Remember to use a tool to operate your taps when filling the carafe, and wash your hands before handling it. When you need to wash your hands during the day (preferably each time you come in and go out), dampen your hands with water from the carafe. Soap thoroughly. Use the water in the carafe to rinse your hands (if you're clumsy, just pour a little water into the bowl first). Dry your hands on a paper towel, but before you throw it away, use a little alcohol on the paper towel and wipe down the carafe. Now throw the paper towel into a nearby wastebasket. At night or as necessary during the day, empty the bowl and carafe, and wash both thoroughly after washing your hands. Refill the carafe (using a clean tool to operate the taps) and you are ready for the next round of handwashing.

My Handwashing Station © 2020 by progressivist

My Handwashing Station © 2020 by progressivist

My Handwashing Station Setup

It took me just a few minutes to set this up by my front door (I don't use the back door to come in and go out). This is set up on the end table of my sofa. The tray, pitcher, little bottle for the soap, and the bowl were all bought at a nearby dollar store, and after I took this picture I folded the paper towels to make them a little less bulky because the end table is small. The hardest part was actually taking the stickers off of the dollar store items! I had to teach people who come in how to use this because most people have never had to use this, but now it's a habit for everyone who comes inside and so far I have 100% compliance with visitors. I added a bottle of fragrance-free moisturizer for comfort, for the people who wash their hands a lot.

Handwashing station at the Radisson Blu hotel in Freetown.  CDC Global / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Handwashing station at the Radisson Blu hotel in Freetown. CDC Global / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

An Old Idea Gets New Life

As you can see from the photos, this isn't a new idea and is widely used all over the world where running water may not be convenient in a certain location. If you have a back door you can use these outside to make washing your hands easier as you come inside.

Handwashing station. These are filled with chlorinated water and can be found in various locations, such as entryways for hotel workers, WHO headquarters, and restaurants.  CDC Global / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Handwashing station. These are filled with chlorinated water and can be found in various locations, such as entryways for hotel workers, WHO headquarters, and restaurants. CDC Global / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Make the World Safer for Everyone

If you make this as attractive and easy as possible, people will enjoy using it and you can make this into a habit for the people in your house, and encourage others to do the same. This is especially important for those people who work at home and have clients visit them, and reassures their clients that they care about their health, too. The more we can encourage frequent handwashing to become a normal part of everyone's life, the safer and healthier we will all be.

Children celebrate Handwashing Day in Lekma South Cluster of Schools, where USAID has built school bathrooms and handwashing stations to prevent disease spread. (USAID/A. Kauffeld)

Children celebrate Handwashing Day in Lekma South Cluster of Schools, where USAID has built school bathrooms and handwashing stations to prevent disease spread. (USAID/A. Kauffeld)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 progressivist