DIY Hand Washing Station and Why You Need One

With a return to normalcy already underway, things are reopening. But with an increased level of interpersonal contact comes an increased need to sanitize. According to the CDC, one of the best ways to stop the spread of diseases is to wash your hands frequently, especially after coming into contact with other people. Your hands are likely to collect germs, and washing your hands with soap and water removes germs from your hands and makes it safer to touch your face. This is especially true with little kids who are very prone to touching their faces, and who touch everything! Having a hand washing station is a great way to ensure that you have the ability to sanitize before coming back into your home or daycare. There are many options for hand washing stations out there, ranging from the inexpensive DIY options to the expensive, high-end, more permanent models. The purpose of this blog is to give you the options so that you can make the best decision for your circumstance, and help keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

DIY Hand Washing Station ~$60

There are a lot of DIY hand washing stations out there and most of them require more parts than are necessary. The DIY project I have featured here requires some tools and building ability, but I am pretty confident that anyone with access to the necessary tools will be able to put it together. 


1. Hacksaw

2. Drill and drill bit to drill hole in bucket

3. Screwdriver to tighten hose clamp

List of Parts (w/ links)

1. Two, 5 gallon buckets ~ $6.50

2. Angle iron ~ $11

3. Bag of zip ties ~ $5

4. Outboard motor fuel transfer pump ~ $24

5. Various PVC pipes and fittings ~ $5

        a. Plain end 10 ft pipe

        b. Two 90° elbows

        c. Pipe fitting adapter

6. Three Hose clamps ~ $3.50

7. Plywood ~$5

8. Tube Straps ~$2

9. You will need common wood screws to attach the fuel pump to the plywood. Buy some if you don’t have any spares lying around.

Assembly Instructions

These Instructions are based on the following video. They don’t follow the video tutorial exactly but it is a good reference for what the final product will roughly look like and how it will function. Portable outdoor hand washing station

  1. Firstly drill a hole into one of the buckets near the top of the bucket but under the lip on the bucket where the lid attaches. The hole needs to be large enough for one end of the fuel pump hose to go into the bucket.
  2. Cut the PVC pipe to roughly 3 feet long. Cut another piece 6 inches long. Attach the two sections using an elbow coupler. Put the second elbow onto the open end of the 6 inch section, oriented so that when water comes out of the pipe it will flow down into the bucket. 
  3. Cut the plywood to about 12in x 9in.
  4. Attach the fuel pump to the plywood using tube straps and wood screws. You can put hose clamps on the other side of the tube straps to keep the fuel pump from sliding.
  5. Connect the output end of the fuel pump to the long section of PVC using the pipe adapter and a hose clamp. Put the fuel pump in water and pump it to make sure you are connecting the right end.
  6. Drive the angle iron into the ground until it stands up on its own and then attach the PVC to the angle iron using zip ties.
  7. Fill the bucket with a hole in it with water and put the lid on.
  8. Remove the lid from the other bucket and stack it on top of the bucket that you just filled with water.
  9. Position the open end of the PVC to be over the open bucket.
  10. Put the fuel pump hose into the bucket of water and place the fuel pump on the ground. You should be able to pump the hose and get to washing. If the system doesn’t start pumping water right away, it is most likely because it isn’t primed. It takes a second to prime the system with water.

Low End Options ~ $145

If you want a low end affordable option this camping table is good. You do need access to a hose that is connected to a water source, so it is not as portable as the DIY option.

Mid Range Options ~ $428

Portable hand washing station

This mid range option is more permanent and sturdy than the lower end or DIY option but it is also more expensive.

High End Options ~ $1500-2500

The high end options are the most permanent and professional. They are good for schools and say cares where these will see a lot of use. They also almost always have a little cabinet for extra storage space. There are a lot of options in this price range, but again the downside is, you pay a lot of money to get the same job done as the cheaper options.

Regardless of what you choose remember that encouraging kids to wash their hands is a vital step towards keeping them safe. Happy hand washing!