Hand Washing 101

We’ve all heard how important it is to fight the spread of germs by washing hands on a regular basis. Children typically start learning this at a very young age but to actually get them to follow through with washing their hands when they need to is another story. We have listed recommendations on how to instill the importance of keeping hands clean to prevent the spread of infection and when are the best times to wash hands!

Children (and adults – it’s important to set a good example!) need to wash their hands:

  • After going to the bathroom (regardless of going #1 or #2!)

  • Before and after cooking, eating, and handling food

  • After sneezing and/or coughing

  • After rubbing or touching one’s nose

  • After playing with toys that other children play with (lots of germs are found on toys utilized for public use)

  • When done playing outside

  • After playing with or petting an animal

  • After touching anything soiled by fluids that come from the body

  • If the hands look or smell dirty (but even if they don’t – germs can be invisible)

  • After school or daycare

The above are just a few of the instances where children and adults need to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs and infections. As we have stated before in other blogs, children learn from their parents’ example so parents, it’s important that your child see you washing your hands at the required times. They will instinctively follow your example and will be even more inclined to do so if you are going to speak encouragement to them like, “Good job on washing your hands so well!” Children love positive reinforcement for something they’re being taught to do.

In addition to the listed above times to wash hands, adults and parents need to also wash their own hands:

  • After changing diapers, helping a child use the toilet, touching any fluids that come from the body even if it’s as simple as after wiping a child’s runny nose with a Kleenex, etc

  • After using and/or touching a cell phone (we recommend sanitizing your cell phone daily with a bit of rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball or Q-tip)

  • Before administering medicine to someone

  • Before and after cooking and eating (like listed above)

  • The above list for children refers to adults as well

It’s important to use warm, not hot, running water with soap to cleanse the hands. Avoid using cold water if you can as well because it’s been found that warm water does a better job at removing germs and infections than cold water does. Hand sanitizers should only be used by adults and is best only when no soap or water is present – but should not be used in place of water and soap. Stand with your child while he or she washes his or her hands to remind them that they need to wash thoroughly on the tops and bottoms of their hands and in their fingernails if needed as well. A good rule of thumb for time frame is having your child sing his or her ABC’s or count to 25-30 slowly – Then that constitutes a good hand-washing! Use a gentle and chemical-free moisturizer to keep hands hydrated after washing and drying. Yay to clean hands!