Hot Water for Handwashing: Is it necessary?

Brian Hageman, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Plumbing Discipline Lead
3/19/21

Over the last several years, experts in infection control have been uprooting old assumptions that hot water is an essential component in handwashing. The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “Apart from the issue of skin tolerance and level of comfort, water temperature does not appear to be a critical factor for microbial removal from hands being washed.” Water in the temperature range we can tolerate is not hot enough to kill bacteria — it would have to be scalding hot before its temperature could improve upon the simple act of scrubbing with soap.

Five reasons to eliminate hot water handwashing:

  1. Hot water is not required for effective handwashing.
  2. It is arguably an unnecessary expense.
  3. It wastes energy.
  4. It presents potential risks for patients and healthcare providers.
  5. There are cheaper and safer design options for water systems that are as effective for handwashing.

Access the full article in the Academy of Architecture for Health Journal below:


Aaron Schiess, PE

Associate, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Andy Neathery

Technology BIM Specialist

Angela Howell, BSN, RN

Medical Equipment Planner

Angelica Chow, PE, LEED AP BD+C

Electrical Engineer

Anjali Wale, PE, LEED AP

Senior Electrical Engineer

Arturo S Salud

Associate, Senior Electrical Designer

Austin Barolin, PE, CEM, LEED AP O&M

Senior Associate, Senior Energy Analyst

Bethany Beers, CCP, LEED AP BD+C

Senior Associate, Energy & Commissioning Consultant

Brennan Schumacher, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Lighting Design Lead

Brian Hageman, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Plumbing Discipline Lead

Brian Hans, PE, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Brian J. Lottis, LEED AP BD+C

Associate, Senior Mechanical Designer

Brianne Copes, PE, LEED AP

Senior Associate, Mechanical Engineer

Chiao-Wei Yu

Associate, Director of VDC

Chris Hanzel, PE, LEED AP

Senior Associate, Senior Mechanical Engineer

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