Handwashing with children

Teach children how to prevent the spread of germs.

Keeping children’s hands clean whether at home or school is an essential tool in keeping them healthy and stopping the spread of germs. As parents and caregivers we need to set a good example of the proper way to wash our hands. When teaching children proper handwashing, go to the sink with them and demonstrate. This may take several times to have the children get the hang of it (it will improve with practice and age).

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following steps which are helpful in teaching children proper handwashing techniques:

  • Have clean disposable paper towel available.
  • Turn the water on to a comfortable temperature, not to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Get both hands wet then remove hands from the water and apply soap.
  • Rub hands together vigorously until the soap turns into lather.
  • Rub the palms of the hands, the back of the hands, in between the fingers, the nails and the wrist. Continue this for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse hands until all the soap and dirt is removed from the hands.
  • Dry hands thoroughly as germs like to grow in wet and warm places. Leave the water running while you dry your hands, than use the paper towel to turn the water off and throw the paper towel away. This prevents germs from being picked up from the faucet.

The best practices of when to wash hands is as followed:

  • Before and after handling food
  • Before eating food
  • After using the restroom (after washing hands, use clean dry cloth to open the door when leaving, then dispose the paper towel into the trash)
  • After combing hair
  • After playing/petting an animal
  • After playing outdoors
  • After changing a diaper
  • After coughing/sneezing/blowing nose
  • Wash frequently throughout the day

Again, remember to wash your hands thoroughly and continue to monitor your children’s hand washing techniques.

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