This study aimed to explore the hand hygiene compliance among the nursing staff in Taiwanese freestanding nursing homes. A descriptive observational research design was used. A total of 782 opportunities for hand hygiene were observed by one trained research assistant in two freestanding nursing homes. The hand-hygiene observation tool was used to assess hand hygiene practice. The overall hand hygiene compliance among nursing staff in nursing homes was only 11.3%. Results further showed that the compliance was greater after contact with body fluids (odds ratio = 6.9, confidence interval (CI) = 3.75–9.88, P = 0.000) and lower before the performance of aseptic procedures (odds ratio = 0.15, CI = 0.04–0.63, P = 0.003) when compared with other activities. Hand hygiene compliance was relatively low among the nursing staff in freestanding nursing homes in Taiwan. To comprehensively analyze this issue, further research involving a larger number of nursing homes and strategies to improve compliance with hand hygiene among the nursing staff at these institutions is needed.