Hands-Free Hand-Wash Sinks and Faucets

Improve sanitation by eliminating transfer of viruses and bacteria from dirty faucet handles to clean hands in the bathroom and kitchen at home and work...and save water and energy.

Problem: With standard, manual faucets, virus splatter and traces of feces are transferred from dirty hands to faucet handles, hands are cleaned, then the feces and viruses are transferred to the just-cleaned hands—and the just-cleaned hands of subsequent users as well.

Solution: With hands-free hardware, this pathway for transmission of disease (including COVID-19) is reduced or eliminated. More precise control over water and hot water use lowers cost and reduces climate impacts as well.

Where this information comes from

For forty years I’ve been designing with alternatives to manual faucets that provide better sanitation, water efficiency, and energy efficiency. I recently designed retrofits for homes and clinics for the COVID-19 pandemic. This page starts with the hardware I just purchased. I will update it as I gain experience with the performance over time. At the bottom of the page are designs I used decades ago in village conditions in the developing world.

Simple, low cost manual retrofit

You push your hand against the wand and the water flows. Not strictly hands-free, but the actuation surface is continuously washed and these are simple and affordable. You can set the hot-cold ratio with the manual faucets then use this for on/ off. A bonus: this will stop a leaking faucet from leaking. There are a bunch of these made and on offer; this one was among the lowest cost:

INSTANT-OFF Home 350 Max Water Saver, Automatic Shut-Off Valve for Bathroom & Kitchen Faucets. 3.5" stainless rod controls water flow. Stops drippy faucets


Low cost foot actuated single pedal

I was astonished to find this at such low cost. We’ll see how it holds up. I plan to install two of these for drinking water taps.

The single pedal can also be installed downstream from a mixing valve to supply an adjustable mix of hot/ cold water.

You will need some long, flexible supply lines to get from the supply valve at the wall to the pedal then up to the faucet.

Foot actuated hot/ cold pedals

A double pedal allows hot, cold, or with some fancy footwork, a mixture of both. This is the lowest price we found on a dual pedal.

Commercial Stainless Steel Dual Foot Pedal Control for Sink Faucet


Motion-sensor faucet

I put one of these outside the house to wash possible virus from hands on coming into the outside world, before touching any part of the house, and another in the bathroom. They are working great. To lower the carbon footprint, I have both of these on cold water only. In a clinic bathroom, I figure hot water only is better, in part because frequent use means the water won’t just turn back to cold in the line.

Motion sensor faucets generally cost hundreds of dollars; it is amazing how low cost this is. Downside: it requires 120v power. Upside, it will never run out of batteries (the expensive ones use lithium batteries)

Yescom 5" Automatic Electronic Sensor Touchless Faucet Motion-Activated Bathroom Bar Vessel Sink Tap Brushed Nickel

$68.95 --I see price doubled since we got ours...heres a Less expensive alternate not tested

Motion-sensor retrofit to regular faucet


This is an awesome little piece of hardware to turn a regular faucet to a motion sensor faucet.

It only worked some of the time when we tested it on a bathroom faucet that had only a few inches between it and the sink, but is working great so far on a high kitchen sink faucet.

It turns on for a second with hand under, turns on and stays on if you wave your hand by the side, then wave your hand again to turn it off.

Touchless Automatic Faucet Motion Sensor Adapter Tap Autowater For Kitchen Bathroom Sink, Hand Free Aerator, Smart Faucet Sensor


Motion-sensor soap dispenser

Motion sensor soap dispensers seem to be an active area...the one we ordered is no longer offered by the same vendor but similar ones are all over Amazon. Please stay tuned for more recommendations and let us know if you find one you like.

The best way to support front line health care workers: don't get infected; physically distance, wash your hands

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