How to teach children to wash hands efficiently?

Sunday, March 10, 2024

One of the best, cheapest, and most effective ways to keep children healthy, is to teach them how to wash hands properly. Children need to learn to take care of their hygiene from early on. Washing hands frequently is one of the best habits a child can learn - and this habit will never be out of fashion whatever the age or season!

When children should wash their hands?

Here are some situations when it is recommended to wash hands. Children should wash their hands always when...

  • arriving to daycare
  • coming home
  • before eating
  • after being to the toilet
  • after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • hands are visibly dirty

These are some simple guidelines that stop germs from spreading for example from bus to daycare or from supermarket to home. And of course, adults should follow all these guidelines as well.

Soap, soap, more soap!

First of all, the most important thing when washing hands is soap! Without bubbles, the germs are not going to vanish that easily.

It is not that important, whether the water is cold or hot - the main focus should be on the soapy water.

Also, even hand sanitizer does not kill all kinds of bacteria and viruses, for example, certain diarrhea-causing viruses. Therefore soap is the key! When hands are washed efficiently with soap, it is highly effective at killing most germs and pathogens.


All About Me -lesson plan sample

How to wash your hands properly?

Here’s a step-by-step guide for effective handwashing by UNICEF:

  • Step 1: Wet hands with running water
  • Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover wet hands
  • Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including the back of the hands, between fingers, and under nails – for at least 20 seconds
  • Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with running water
  • Step 5: Dry hands with a clean cloth or single-use towel

Tip! To keep children focused on handwashing long enough, sing 'Happy Birthday' twice (for example to two different fingers) and then hands are surely clean!

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear thumb, happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear little finger, happy birthday to you!"


More info on handwashing:

UNICEF How to teach your kids handwashing?

RAISING CHILDREN Hand-washing for children in pictures

SUPER SIMPLE SONGS The hand-washing song


Happy hand washing!