Household Handwashing Device

People need to wash their hands at home as well as after going to the toilet. Where there is no running water at the household level, as in most humanitarian emergencies, water will need to be stored in a container and refilled. Household level hand washing has the advantage that user can take ownership of the system and they have responsibility for ensuring the container is filled: something that is a problem with communal household systems.

Nature of solution A handwashing solution for households that can fit on a variety of containers. It should require only one touch to cause the flow of water, which should stop when released. It should incorporate a clip/ clamp on device for house soap or ash.
Flow rate Water conservation is important, so a flow rate of 1 – 1.5 litres/minute would be appropriate. When not in use it should not leak.
Disabilities Should be useable by handicapped people.
Durability Last a minimum of 2 years.
Security Theft resistant design
Packaging Easily packageable.
Local Materials The solution should be a complete kit, not requiring any materials to be sourced in country.
Cost No more than around £5/unit delivered to Europe.


Develop, test and have ready for purchase two new hand washing devices suitable for emergency situations. They will be lightweight, hygienic, water saving and cost around £3/unit.



Product Designers

Oxfam commissioned Alex Bone & Steve Matthews, a pair of product designers, to conduct a review of existing handwashing devices and produce sketch prototypes and concepts of potential new handwashing products.

The review found the Handy Wash and the ‘Haiti Foot Pump’ to be the most effective hand washing products so far. Their new concepts included taps made of rubber for increased durability and a time-delay tap which dispenses a fixed amount of water after the user has pressed a button.

3D printing of handwashing devices

Oxfam collaborated with Makr, a 3D printing company, to crowd source designs for handwashing devices on their ‘MyMiniFactory’ website. Oxfam had intended on printing these concepts through a 3D printer in Lebanon which will allow us to print and test the designs in our programmes without logistics difficulties. 13 entries were received from the challenge, of which a few had potential. Collectively Oxfam had to discount this exercise and to rather continue with the Handy WaSH concept, as the crowd source designs did not provide us anything credibly different, or appropriate.

Handy Wash 2 Development

The Handy Wash handwashing tap was developed over a number of years by Oxfam in collaboration with Nag Magic and has been field proven as being effective. There’s always room for improvement though and Oxfam have been working on a new version which uses an improved valve which is easier to use, and should also be more robust.

Based on the improved concept a local UK product developer and Nag Magic are jointly developing an advanced concept. Initial prototypes were sent to South Sudan for testing, with positive feedback. An improved model is being made, and shall inform and be part of some trials in DRC together with CDC and Buffalo University which will examine both the hardware and the software – enablers and barriers to hand washing. Handy Wash.jpg
The above image illustrates the current concept of the hand washing device – with the right hand side being the improved version.

Native Design

Our partnership with design firm Native has resulted in a very compelling handwashing tap concept and prototype, but the cost of developing it to a production model exceeds the budget available under ESP at this stage, thus has been stopped.

Tell us your idea

If you have any products, ideas or would like to become involved in the latrine lining project please get in touch with:

Jenny Lamb, Emergency Sanitation Researcher at Oxfam