Global Handwashing Day - Survey Reveals The World Rankings

One in three across the world don’t always wash their hands properly after going to the toilet A global survey from ORB International and their WIN/Gallup International network, the world’s leading association in market research and polling, shows that 65% of those polled across 64 countries ‘agree’ that washing their hands with soap and water is something they automatically do – however 26% only somewhat agree, while just under one in ten (8%) disagree.

The survey interviewed a total of 62,398 people across the world and found there are significant differences by region.  Those from China and Japan were significantly less likely to automatically use soap and water (23% and 30% respectively), while those from Saudi Arabia were most likely to wash hands with soap and water.

Within Europe, the Greeks reported to be the cleanest, 85% agreeing that they wash their hands with soap and water automatically, the Dutch the least likely (50%).  In the Americas Colombia proved to be the cleanest with 93% agreeing that they automatically wash their hands with soap while Mexico was the least likely to agree with 32% either simply somewhat agreeing, somewhat disagreeing or disagreeing completely.

Dr Myriam Sidibe, Hygiene and Nutrition Social mission Director for Unilever, said:  “Unilever’s soap brand, Lifebuoy, has a long legacy in increasing awareness of the importance of handwashing with soap.  We know that there are around 11 occasions in a day where we should wash our hands with soap, yet soap is only used about 1 to 2 times in a day and sometimes as little as once in a week.  This is the reason why we have set up the ambition to implement the largest hygiene program in the world reaching 1 billion people by 2020 and already reached 257 million people in 24 countries and is committed to reaching more children and saving more lives.”

Around the world, 440million school days are lost every year due to water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases (WHO/UNICEF 2013).  It is estimated that hand washing with soap alone could save over 650,000 lives each year (Greenland et al 2012)

It is estimated that 15% of the global population defecate in the open while 35% have no access to safe toilet facilities.  Our research shows that an alarmingly high number of people across the world are not washing their hands with soap under water, either through lack of facilities or bad habits.




The WIN/GIA Survey is an annual tradition initiated by and designed under the chairmanship of Dr. George Gallup in 1977. It is conducted every year since then. This year it was carried out by the WIN/Gallup International Association in 64 countries around the world.

Sample Size and Mode of Field Work:

A total of 62,398 persons were interviewed globally. In each country a representative sample of around 1000 men and women was interviewed either face to face (30 countries; n=32258), via telephone (12 countries; n=9784) or online (22 countries; n=20356). Details are attached. The field work was conducted during September 2014 - December 2014. The margin of error for the survey is between 2.14 and 4.45 +3-5% at 95% confidence level.

The global average has been computed according to the share of the covered adult population of the surveyed countries.

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Data From All Countries

Non-confidential intelligence reports: