Determined actions are required to address the burden due to health care-associated infections worldwide and improve patient safety. Improving hand hygiene among health care workers is an essential intervention to achieve these goals. The World Health Organization (WHO) First Global Patient Safety Challenge, Clean Care is Safer Care, pledged to tackle the problem of health care-associated infection at its launch in 2005 and has elaborated a comprehensive set of guidelines for use in both developed and developing countries worldwide. The final version of the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care was issued in March 2009 and includes recommendations on indications, techniques, and products for hand hygiene. In this review, we discuss the role of hands in the transmission of health care-associated infection, the benefits of improved compliance with hand hygiene, and the recommendations, implementation strategies and tools recommended by WHO. We also stress the need for action to increase the pace with which these recommendations are implemented in facilities across India.