Vermont Extension creates DIY portable hand-washing stations

Hand-washing became a critical exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic. But finding suitable hand-washing facilities was not always easy at on farms, farmers markets and other outdoor venues.

To the rescue came some talented specialists from the University of Vermont Extension. Agricultural engineer Chris Callahan and agricultural engineering technician Andy Chamberlin created a do-it-yourself solution that could be assembled cheaply and easily.

Using readily available parts, the two designed and created portable hand-washing stations that are also hands-free. Components of the stations included a cart or wooden stand, a five-gallon jug with a spigot that was operated by a foot pedal, and an oil-draining pan or similar device to collect used water. An automatic soap dispenser and touchless paper towel dispenser rounded out the stations. An ADA compliant version was also created to allow for hand operation for those in wheelchairs.

Callahan and Chamberlin developed fact sheets with basic assembly directions and a list of materials. Completed stations could be built for about $180 or less, much less than commercially sold hand-washing stations that can cost around $700. Many organizations within Vermont expressed interest in the homemade hygiene devices.