Hand washing with soap saves lives. And yet, millions of lives are being lost because people are not practicing it! We’re not talking about an expensive vaccine or a high tech drinking water supply scheme.  We’re talking about the simple act of washing hands with soap. Yet this life saving, low cost act is rarely practiced and difficult to promote.

The challenge is to transform hand washing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behaviour performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. Turning hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhoea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.

What is a tippy tap?

The tippy tap is a hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water. It is operated by a foot lever and thus reduces the chance for bacteria transmission as the user touches only the soap. It uses only 40 millilitres of water to wash your hands versus 500 millilitres using a mug. Additionally, the used “waste” water can go to plants or back into the water table.

While the tippy tap is a great technology, it is just that – a technology.  It is important to recognise that there is a difference between great technology and adoption of the technology.  However, it is a great tool that can help kick start the conversation about hand washing with soap and help increase this behaviour.  And it does so in a fun and easy manner that is especially appealing to children.

For more information about the global handwashing problem and the Tippy Tap (including many tools and resources in multiple languages) visit

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