Child Health, Safety, and Well-being

 Tips: Hand Washing

Last Updated: December 08, 2021

How to Wash Hands Properly

Here are five steps to teach your child how to properly wash their hands:   

1) WET hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

2) LATHER hands by rubbing them together with soap. Lather the back of the hands, between the fingers, and under the nails.

3) SCRUB hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.

4) RINSE hands well under clean, running water.

5) DRY hands using a clean towel or air dryer.


Handwashing Fun

More tips on how to make handwashing a fun family activity:

Sing a Song: The CDC recommends scrubbing hands with soap for 20 seconds. To achieve 20 seconds of hand scrubbing, include a few well-known songs including "Happy Birthday", "ABC", chorus for "Stayin' Alive by The Bee Gees", "Twinkle Twinkle", or even create a song.

Create a Handwashing Chart: Grab a large poster board and create a grid for each day of the week. Ask your child or children "We should wash our hands before what activities?" and "We should wash our hands after what activities?" Some children may need prompts in order to come up with ideas, but once they start providing answers to the questions; write their answers on the grid. Hang the poster in a common area, so that it acts as a reminder for everyone in the family on when to wash their hands. Have your child or children place a sticker or color in the grid box when they have washed their hands (e.g. after using the bathroom, before eating or cooking). At the end of the week, provide a fun reward for completing proper handwashing.


Hand Sanitizer

Wash hands with soap and water whenever possible to reduce the amount of germs on hands; but if soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. However, hand sanitizer does not get rid of all types of germs, may not be effective when hands are visibly greasy or dirty, and might not remove harmful chemicals from hands.

When using hand sanitizer, please keep it out of the reach of young children and supervise their use. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning.

How to Use Hand Sanitizer:

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (please read the sanitizer label to learn the correct amount of gel to use).
  • Rub hands together and over all surfaces on your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.