Hand hygiene is a core element of patient safety for the prevention of healthcare-associated infections and the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Its promotion represents a challenge that requires a multi-modal strategy using a clear, robust and simple conceptual framework. The World Health Organization First Global Patient Safety Challenge 'Clean Care is Safer Care' has expanded educational and promotional tools developed initially for the Swiss national hand hygiene campaign for worldwide use. Development methodology involved a user-centred design approach incorporating strategies of human factors engineering, cognitive behaviour science and elements of social marketing, followed by an iterative prototype test phase within the target population. This research resulted in a concept called 'My five moments for hand hygiene'. It describes the fundamental reference points for healthcare workers (HCWs) in a time-space framework and designates the moments when hand hygiene is required to effectively interrupt microbial transmission during the care sequence. The concept applies to a wide range of patient care activities and healthcare settings. It proposes a unified vision for trainers, observers and HCWs that should facilitate education, minimize inter-individual variation and resource use, and increase adherence. 'My five moments for hand hygiene' bridges the gap between scientific evidence and daily health practice and provides a solid basis to understand, teach, monitor and report hand hygiene practices.