In the fall of 2014, the West African Ebola virus epidemic was getting a lot of press. I remember hearing on the radio that washing hands was basically the best, if not only, way to protect yourself and prevent it from spreading. The fact that this and other diseases could be controlled by something so simple as washing your hands stuck with me.
I designed a T-shirt to draw attention to hand washing and distributed it through Cotton Bureau, who I had recently worked with on another project. As I did research for the "Wash Your Hands" shirt, I found there wasn't a consistent or even very well executed hand washing icon out there. So I designed one that would feel familiar, but be stronger than what is commonly in use. The shirt was funded and produced, but I decided that a $30 T-shirt was probably not the best vehicle for this icon.
After making and promoting the T-shirt, I took a new interest in the hand washing signs found in bathrooms everywhere and I began taking pictures of them. I started to envision my icon on these signs. But I wanted to make sure it would be an improvement on the symbols that are being used now. So, using flat art I found online and photos I took, I replaced the existing icons with my own in these digital mock-ups to see how it stacked up.
I concluded that my hand washing icon is an upgrade for the vast majority of signs on the market, so I want to get it out there and freely available to use. First step was releasing it into the wild. This summer I made it available for download at The Noun Project. Or you can download it right here.
I’ve also made vinyl stickers featuring the icon that can easily be "installed" in public or private bathrooms to gently remind people to wash their hands. They are available now in our Emy & Boyfriend shop. Try them in your home, at work, or anywhere you think people could use the reminder.
If you've spotted any really good or really bad hand washing signs, please send a photo my way or tag me @pbjameson. And since you made it to the end of this post, you’ve earned a free three-pack of stickers. Just click the button below and enjoy!