This paper examines how emotional motivators can be used to promote handwashing with soap (HWWS) among mothers affected by an emergency. The impact of using emotional motivators along with other behaviour determinants for behaviour change in development settings has been well documented; however there is limited evidence for the use of motives for HWWS in emergency contexts. Oxfam, in partnership with Unilever’s Lifebuoy soap and Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Office (CSO), collected data in three countries affected by crises – Nepal (2015), Pakistan (2014), and the Philippines (2015) – to determine motivating factors and barriers around HWWS among mothers. Methods used for the assessment included household survey, structured observation, key informant interview, focus group discussion, and behavioural trials. Post-emergency handwashing knowledge and practice was also measured along with the most effective communication channels to reach the target group. The findings reveal that all mothers were motivated by affiliation and nurture; additionally, in Nepal and Pakistan mothers were motivated by purity and mothers in the Philippines were motivated by handwashing drivers related to shame. Barriers to HWWS in emergencies relate to socio-cultural beliefs and the absence of handwashing hardware.