Health care associated infections are drawing increasing attention from patients, insurers, governments and regulatory bodies. This is not only because of the magnitude of the problem in terms of the associated morbidity, mortality and cost of treatment, but also due to the growing recognition that most of these are preventable. The medical community is witnessing in tandem unprecedented advancements in the understanding of pathophysiology of infectious diseases and the global spread of multi-drug resistant infections in health care set-ups. These factors, compounded by the paucity of availability of new antimicrobials have necessitated a re-look into the role of basic practices of infection prevention in modern day health care. There is now undisputed evidence that strict adherence to hand hygiene reduces the risk of cross-transmission of infections. With "Clean Care is Safer Care" as a prime agenda of the global initiative of WHO on patient safety programmes, it is time for developing countries to formulate the much-needed policies for implementation of basic infection prevention practices in health care set-ups. This review focuses on one of the simplest, low cost but least accepted from infection prevention: hand hygiene.