Handwashing: Cleaning Tips for Kids

Author:Denise Perreault

Although it seems extremely simple, washing our hands is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. Throughout the day, we use our hands for all sorts of different tasks. We might rest our hands on the escalator handrail at the mail, or press elevator buttons, open doors that other people touch, or pet a cute dog on the street. Each time, our hands pick up germs from all of these places and more. To avoid transferring these germs to our eyes, nose or mouth, we need to wash properly. The sections below contain plenty of helpful tips for both adults and kids about the importance of washing our hands.

For Parents, Teachers and Caregivers

Tips for Helping Kids to Wash Properly

  • By making hand washing both fun and easy for kids, we can help to encourage healthy hygiene habits.
  • A small stool in front of the basin will allow kids to reach the tap easily.
  • At home, keep a fingernail scrubbing brush and some colorful shaped soaps by the basin for a more fun washing experience!
  • Off-limits items should be kept out of reach.
  • Teach kids a song about hand washing to ensure that they go through all the steps and wash for an appropriate amount of time.
  • Posters or hand washing charts posted next to the wash basin can serve as fun reminders for kids.

How to Teach Hygiene to Kids

  • Instead of only telling kids about hygiene, show them and let them try it out for themselves too.
  • Ask your child to teach their sibling or even an adult how to wash their hands. This reinforces what they have already learned. Another way to do this is by quizzing them on what they know.
  • Go one step at a time instead of dumping a heap of information right away.
  • Younger children benefit best from constant repetition and positive reinforcement. This can be accomplished through the use of hand washing stories, cartoons, or coloring pages. Let them play games to help them visualize germs on their hands.
  • Remember that children also learn by observing. When adults practice good hygiene habits, they set an example for children. Before and after handling food, after cleaning spills, and so on, bring it to the child’s attention when you start washing your hands.
  • Make hand washing part of the child’s routine. For example, everyone in the household should wash their hands before meals each time.

Handwashing Safety Pointers

  • Bathrooms are areas that pose many risks to children if they are not properly secured. Make sure to child-proof the bathroom before allowing children to use it unattended.
  • Cabinets and drawers that contain chemical products, medication, razors, and other potentially harmful items should have child safety locks on them.
  • Teach children about how to turn on the hot and cold water taps for water of an ideal temperature. They should know that very hot water can cause a burn and a lot of pain. Try a few different water temperatures with them to find the one that they are most comfortable with.

Just For Kids!

Steps to Washing Your Hands

  • It is pretty easy to remember the main steps of hand washing.
  • Before washing your hands, check that there is a towel close by.
  • Next, turn on the taps and let some warm water run over your hands.
  • Soap your hands and scrub them enough that the soap creates lots of bubbles. If there is a nail brush by the washbasin, use it to scrub the dirt from under your fingernails. Make sure to do a good job since you need to get all the germs out!
  • In total, you should wash your hands for about twenty seconds. If you manage to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” you can stop washing by the end of the song.
  • Use the towel to pat your hands dry.
  • If it is a paper towel (for example, in a public washroom), use it to open the door. Once you’re out, throw away the towel in a trashcan.

When Should You Wash?

  • Always wash before touching any food or eating.
  • If you are injured, wash your hands before dealing with the cut or wound.
  • After you sneeze, cough, or touch your nose or mouth, wash your hands.
  • If you’ve been hanging out with a sick person, give those hands a good scrub!
  • If your parents ask you to change the baby’s diaper, make sure to clean yourself afterwards.
  • If you’ve been at school, wash your hands when you get back home. Ask if your school is regularly cleaned by a school cleaning company.
  • You should always wash your hands after playing, feeding, walking, or picking up after your pet.
  • If you’ve been outdoors for a while, whether in the woods or the shopping mall, wash your hands when you get back home.