Tips for Improved Hand Washing

Everyone needs to wash their hands, especially caregivers who come in contact with children and the children themselves. Since we cannot avoid exposure to germs, we must do our best to prevent spreading diseases by washing our hands often and correctly.

Our Care Course Sanitation for Disease Prevention in Early Childhood Programs is written for all types of childcare facilities (including family homes) and discusses how to provide a clean, sanitary environment to protect children’s health and the health of the child care providers.

Frequent and thorough hand washing can drastically reduce the spread of diseases between staff and children and can protect the younger children who have weaker, less developed immune systems.

Here are some tips for thorough hand washing for both you and the children:

  1. Wet hands under warm running water.
  2. Use liquid soap. Soap bars harbor bacteria.
  3. Lather both hands well and scrub them vigorously for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Scrub all parts of both hands. This includes thumbs, wrists, the areas between fingers, around cuticles, under fingernails, and the back of your hands.
  5. Rinse hands thoroughly under warm running water.
  6. Let water drain from wrists to fingers.
  7. Dry both hands with an automatic dryer or a new single-use towel.
  8. For hand-held faucets, turn off the water using a disposable towel instead of bare hands to avoid recontamination of clean hands.

Washcloth hand washing is acceptable for children under the age of two years and for children with special needs who are not capable of washing their own hands. Use a soapy washcloth and warm water. Use an individual washcloth and towel for each child, and use each washcloth and towel only one time between launderings.

Sometimes children resist hand washing – occasionally quite vigorously. However, hand washing is extremely important to insuring a child’s continued health and wellbeing and may not be negotiable.

A child care provider should approach hand wishing in a firm, but kind manner. You should never punish or threaten to punish a child who resists hand washing. Simply make it clear in a positive way that everyone’s hands must be washed at certain specified times, like after outdoor playtime, after toileting, etc.  Modeling good hand washing practices will also promote healthy life-long practices.

In Sanitation for Disease Prevention in Early Childhood Programs, we cover how to promote a healthy and clean environment for children in all childhood facilities. We’ve touched on healthy hand washing in this blog. Do you want to learn more? Find this course on our website.

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