W6 Washing with little water

HygieneWater and sanitation

It is helpful to make washing hands regularly as quick and easy as possible. If water is limited, there are ways of washing hands that use very little water. Used water from hand washing can be collected and used for washing floors, latrines or for watering home gardens.

A tippy tap can be made from a plastic container or a gourd. The neck of the gourd is plugged with a piece of wood that has a small hole. Tippy taps allow just a little water to flow each time they are tipped. They are simple and quick to make. They can be hung just outside a latrine or by the door of the home. Don’t fill them too full or they will not work well.

Soap may be expensive but makes washing much more effective. Bars of soap can be tied with string to prevent them being lost or dissolving in water. If rainfall is heavy, a small tin can be hung over the soap to keep it dry. If soap is not available, wood ash, sand or soil can be placed in a small tin and used instead.


  • Why is regular hand washing so important?
  • Which are easier to obtain here – an empty plastic container or a gourd with long curved neck? Could we find a suitable container and make one?
  • Have we seen a tippy tap or leaky gourd in use? What are the advantages of using them rather than using a bowl of water?
  • Would people be likely to steal a tippy tap? Where could they be hung up?
  • How could we collect and use the waste water?

How to make a tippy tap

1. Warm the base of the handle over a candle and then pinch gently with pliers to seal it tight so water cannot flow through.

2. Heat the point of a small nail over a candle and make three holes as shown.

3. Thread string through the two holes on the back and tie the bottle to a stick. Attach soap (with an empty tin can above it to protect it from rain) and make a handle which is pulled to let out a trickle of water.