Handwashing with soap: A concern for overuse of water amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh

Abu Sayeed, Md Hafizur Rahman, Jochen Bundschuh, Indika Herath, Fahad Ahmed, Prosun Bhattacharya, Mohammad Raihan Tariq, Faujhia Rahman, Md Tarikul Islam Joy, Mohammad Tazrian Abid, Nondo Saha, M. Tasdik Hasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Handwashing is one of the vital public health measures. It helps to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, water overuse during hand scrubbing with soap keeping the tap on may put enormous pressure on the already overstretched groundwater resources and households’ economic well-being. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the overuse of water while scrubbing hands with soap for handwashing when the tap is on amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. Sociodemographic data were collected using a web-based survey tool among 1980 participants and an experiment was conducted among 126 participants to estimate the overuse of water during hand scrubbing while the tap is on. A total of 80% of the participants washed their hands regularly after returning home from outside. About 57.3% of participants did not turn off their tap throughout the handwashing process. A single participant, who kept his tap on throughout the handwashing process, overused approximately 1.7 L of water per handwash and 14.9 L of water per day. Hand scrubbing with soap keeping the tap on, raised the overuse of water 13-fold during this pandemic compared to the non-pandemic situation which cost an extra 225.0 BDT (2.7$) per day for 1980 participants. Minimize the speed of tap, using automatic taps, and using taps operated by legs might be an effective solution to reduce the water overuse. Furthermore, behavioral change interventions are needed to aware people turn off the tap during hand scrubbing with soap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100561
JournalGroundwater for Sustainable Development
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Bangladesh
  • COVID-19
  • Hand scrubbing
  • Handwashing
  • Overuse of water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology

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