For the study, 1,633 participants provided baseline estimates of hand hygiene behaviour and coronavirus infections were identified from nasal swabs.
Sarah Beale from University College London's (UCL) Institute of Health Informatics, and first author on the study, said: "Given that Covid-19 appears to demonstrate similar transmission mechanisms to seasonal coronaviruses, these findings support clear public health messaging around the protective effects of handwashing during the pandemic.
Moderate-frequency handwashing was associated with a 36% reduction in the risk of coronavirus infection compared to those who washed their hands zero to five times per day.
Handwashing six to 10 times a day is linked to a lower risk of seasonal coronavirus, supporting public health guidance around measures for the Covid-19 outbreak, research suggests.
The authors write: "This is the first empirical evidence that regular handwashing can reduce personal risk of acquiring seasonal coronavirus infection.