Hand washing with soap and water


One of the best ways to prevent diarrhea diseases is to wash hands after defecating or handling babies' feces, and before preparing food, feeding children, or eating.

Keeping a source of clean water near your home will make hand-washing much easier. But washing with water alone is not enough. To make hand-washing effective, use soap to remove dirt and germs. If no soap is available, use sand, soil, or ashes.
Rub hands together well with soap and flowing water like that from a pump, faucet, or tippy-tap. Count to 30 as you scrub your hands all over. Then rub hands together under the water to rinse off soap, sand, or ashes. Dry with a clean cloth or let your hands dry in the air.

The tippy-tap: A simple hand-washing device

The tippy-tap is a simple device that allows people to wash hands with very little water. It also allows the user to rub his or her hands together while water runs over them. It is made of materials that are available at no cost in most places and can be put wherever people need to wash their hands: near the cooking stove, at the toilet, or in rural food stores, for example.
How to make a plastic tippy-tap
How to make a plastic tippy-tap

© The Hesparian Sanitation


Tippy-taps can also be made with different designs and from different materials. Another that is common is made from a dried calabash gourd.

© The Hesparian Sanitation




© The Hesparation Sanitation



Sanitary use of water for toilet hygiene

In many places people wash their bottoms with water after defecating. This anal washing is a very effective way to stay clean. But because the water used gets contaminated with feces, it must be disposed of carefully. Never dispose of it into a stream or lake. Empty the container into a toilet or into a waste pit at least 20 meters from any surface water, wells, or springs. The container must be kept clean too.
  • Refill the container with wash water often. Do not let it go unwashed for more than a day. The longer it sits, the more germs grow in and on it. 
  • Wash the container with soap or ashes every time before you fill it. 
  • The container used for anal washing should be stored away from other water containers and away from places where food is prepared. 
  • Wash your hands well after the last time you touch the container - germs are sure to be on its handle and surfaces!

How to make soap


1. Add lye to water - never the other way around. The mixture will heat up. Let it cool to body temperature. Do not put fingers in the solution or it will burn. To test the temperature, feel the outside of the container.
2. Melt any solid fat in the oil/fat mixture.
3. Pour the lye water slowly into the oil/fat mixture, stirring it constantly in one direction. Then add perfume or essential oil. The mixture must be stirred for at least half an hour after all the lye has been added. The mixture should become thicker. When the spoon causes lines to appear on top of the thick solution, it is ready to pour in the molds.
4. Pour the mixture into lined molds and leave to set undisturbed for 2 days. If it has not set or if it has grease on top, leave it longer.
5. When the soap has set, remove it from the molds and cut it into bars using a knife or a wire.
6. Stack the bars on trays and let them sit for 4 to 6 weeks. Do not use the soap too soon - it still burns!
7. When the soap is finished, you can shave it from the bar in curls. Touch the soap to the tip of your tongue to check its quality. If it has a slight bite or burn, it is good. Cover the soap so it does not lose moisture.


Testing temperature
Testing temperature

© The Hesparian Sanitation



© The Hesparian Sanitation




Cutting bar soap
Cutting bar soap

© The Hesparian Sanitation


Pieces of bar soap
Pieces of bar soap

© The Hesparian Sanitation





If it is very sharp and burns, there is too much lye. If it has no bite, there is not enough lye. If the soap you made was not successful, it may have been because:
  • The fat or oil was rancid or dirty and not cleaned enough. 
  • The lye water was too hot or too cold when it was poured into the oil/fat mixture. 
  • The mixture was stirred too fast or not long enough. 

If the soap is not good, try again: 

  • Cut the soap into bits. Put it in a pot with 12 cups (2.8 liters) of water. Use gloves to touch the soap. 
  • Bring it slowly to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring at times. 
  • If the soap had too little lye (no bite at all), add a small amount of lye. If the soap had too much lye (sharp bite), add some pre-boiled, strained and cooled fat. Stir until the spoon causes lines to appear on top of the thick solution. 
  • Pour into molds. Let stand 48 hours. Cut into bars, stack the bars on trays and let them sit for 4 to 6 weeks.

Information Source Links

  • Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment - The Hesperian Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (2005). The Hesperian Foundation

Table of content